Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Arthritis Lyme Transmission

The only way to get Lyme disease is from an infected tick bite.

There are three ticks known to carry the Lyme bacteria (Borrelia). The Deer tick and the Western black-legged tick look very similar because they are basically geographic variants of the same tick.

Ticks that can transmit Lyme disease:

  • Deer tick:
    • The deer tick is actually more common on wild mice than on deer.
    • These ticks are much smaller than the common dog tick
    • Found in northern and north-central US
  • Western black-legged ticks:
    • These ticks are much smaller than the common dog tick
    • Found in the Pacific US and British Columbia
  • Lone star tick:
    • Has white dot in the middle of the back
    • Some distribution in the northeastern US extending into the southeastern US

The tick must stay attached to a person's skin for up to two days to transmit this infection. Because the tick is so small few people with Lyme disease remember a tick bite.

Lyme disease has been reported in 33 of the 50 states.

There is a concentration of cases reported in the following states:
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island

Last Updated: Aug 7, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Arthritis Lyme References
  1. Loewen PS, Marra CA, Marra F. Systematic review of the treatment of early Lyme disease. Drugs. 1999 Feb;57(2):157-73. [10188758]
  2. Nagi KS, Joshi R, Thakur RK. Cardiac manifestations of Lyme disease: a review. Can J Cardiol. 1996 May;12(5):503-6. [8640597]
  3. Poland GA. Prevention of Lyme disease: a review of the evidence. Mayo Clin Proc. 2001 Jul;76(7):713-24. [11444404]
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