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WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America
WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America

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Lyme Disease

Description: Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium carried by deer ticks. Lyme disease is common in ticks in some areas, and non-existent in others. Untreated Lyme disease can affect many systems, including the heart, joints, and nerves. Early treatment can often prevent problems.

Symptoms: Symptoms occur in early and late phases. Early Lyme disease is usually heralded by the appearance of a distinctive "bulls-eye" skin rash, followed days to weeks later by symptoms involving the joints, nervous system, or heart. Symptoms of late Lyme disease may appear a year or more later and include skin disorders, prolonged bouts of arthritis, and neurological problems. Fatigue is a prominent feature of both early and late Lyme disease.

Number of Americans diagnosed: There have been 160,012 reported cases since 1980.

Long-term problems/treatments: Prompt treatment with antibiotics is very effective in curing Lyme disease in nearly all cases. Different studies report that between 13 and 53 percent of patients develop a condition called post-Lyme syndrome. Persisting sometimes for years, such symptoms include arthritis, numbness or tingling in parts of the body, fatigue, mood disturbances, and loss of concentration. Life-threatening disorders affecting the heart, lungs, or nervous system can occur but are rare.
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Lyme Disease Foundation

Lyme Disease Network

American Lyme Disease Foundation


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