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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by the micro-organism (spirochete) Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacterium was discovered in 1982 near Lyme Connecticut, although the clinical disease was first described in 1977.

Infection occurs after the bite of an infected tick. The incubation period is approximately 14 days. Symptoms include a large circular red rash at the bite site (50-60% of cases), malaise, fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. If untreated may progress to arthritis and compromise heart function.

Some symptoms and signs of Lyme disease may not appear until weeks, months, or years after a tick bite. Early Lyme disease can usually be correctly diagnosed, but a delayed response or recurrence of this disorder may be mistaken for fibromyalgia.

Some experts believe that between 15% — 50% of patients referred to clinics for Lyme disease actually have fibromyalgia. Late Lyme disease can usually (but not always) be ruled out using laboratory tests that identify the spirochete that causes this tick-borne disease. If fibromyalgia patients are incorrectly diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease with prolonged courses of antibiotics, the drugs may have serious side effects.