Various organisms can transmit harmful bacteria. This includes ticks, which are tiny parasites that feed on blood.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that can affect many systems of the body and cause considerable sickness. Lyme disease primarily is spread by the bites of deer ticks, black-legged ticks, and Lone Star ticks.

Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be more noticeable than others. It also can take anywhere from three to 30 days for symptoms of Lyme disease to appear after a tick bite. As a result, a person may not realize he or she has contracted the illness until the tick has long since unlatched.

Symptoms of Lyme disease may include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. In 70 to 80 percent of cases, individuals will develop erythema migrans, which is a skin rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rash may appear like a bullseye shape, but not always. It also may feel warm to the touch, but is rarely itchy or painful. The rash usually is greater than two inches in size and can appear anywhere on the body.

The Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center says extreme fatigue and lethargy may be pronounced symptoms of Lyme disease. Later disseminated Lyme disease symptoms can include numbness in extremities, concentration issues, mental fogginess, and difficulty following conversations. Lyme disease may cause debilitation for the rest of an affected person’s life, particularly if treatment was not received early.

Anyone who lives in areas with high concentrations of ticks should be diligent in checking themselves for the presence of ticks as well as any rashes, bites or flu-like symptoms. The CDC notes that a tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme bacterium can be transmitted. Prompt removal of a tick can prevent infection. However, many humans are infected through the bites of nymphs, which are less than 2 millimeters in size, which makes them difficult to see.

When people are treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease, they can recover rapidly and completely. The Infectious Disease Society of America says some people experience a possible autoimmune “post-Lyme” syndrome that is not responsive to antibiotics. Studies of Lyme disease treatment and effects are ongoing.

Lyme disease is a year-round concern, but particularly during the warmer months when ticks are most active. People need to be diligent in Lyme disease prevention and tick awareness.