You've Got What? Lyme Disease
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Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, and is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans from the bite of some species of infected tick. The tick species capable of carrying Lyme disease-causing bacteria are found in Asia, Europe, North America and Africa, but not in Australia. There have been no proven cases of Australian-acquired Lyme disease to date. Overseas-acquired Lyme disease may be diagnosed in Australia in returned travellers. A number of other tick-borne infections occur in Australia, and it is possible that people who are diagnosed with Lyme disease may have one of these.
Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick.
Symptoms of Lyme disease may include:
Rarer symptoms of chronic (long-term) infection include disturbances in movement or sensation and heart abnormalities.
Testing for Lyme disease should be performed by an Australian laboratory accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA). Testing performed by non-accredited laboratories (including overseas) may be unreliable.
(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)
Usually 7 – 10 days, range 3 – 32 days.
(time during which an infected person can infect others)
There is no evidence that Lyme disease can be passed from person-to-person. While in theory the infection could be passed through a blood transfusion, no actual cases of transfusion-associated Lyme disease have been reported to date.
Confirmed cases of Lyme disease can be treated with a short course of commonly-available antibiotics. Admission to hospital may be needed.
Persons travelling to countries where tick-borne disease is present are advised to protect themselves against tick bites when walking or hiking in wooded or grassy areas.
As a precaution, people with suspected or confirmed Lyme disease should not donate blood during testing or treatment.