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Is Lyme Disease Contagious: Myths and Facts about this Misunderstood Condition

Updated on April 19, 2010
Size of a Deer Tick
Size of a Deer Tick

Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease that is contracted only through a deer tick's bite. Ticks develop the Borrelia bacteria from biting infected mice and deer. Ticks can then transmit it to other mammals, such as humans, with their bite. A deer tick is about the size of a sesame seed; the males are entirely black with the somewhat larger females being red at the end of their torsos.

If you see a deer tick on your body, you will want to remove it at once as it requires a full twenty four hours for the Borrelia bacteria to transmit to the host. Use a tweezers to extract the tick and be cautious to get the head also, if you simply take off the torso but the head left behind it will proceed to suck blood and possibly give you Lyme disease.

Classic Bull's Eye Rash
Classic Bull's Eye Rash

Is Lyme Disease Contagious?

A lot of people ask, “Is Lyme disease contagious?” Lyme disease is only transferred from a tick, never from human to human contact. The reason some suspect that it might be contagious is since the symptoms closely mimic another exceptionally widespread infection, flu. In reality, only 14,000 cases of Lyme disease get reported every year but researchers guess that about one in ten cases are even reported.

The very first symptoms of Lyme disease involve flu like symptoms of chills, headaches, a fever, fatigue and muscle pain. It is these symptoms that cause to people to ask “Is Lyme disease contagious?” The one symptom that differentiates Lyme disease from the flu is the rash that appears at the location of the tick bite. The location of the bite is often a small red spot with a clear center and shows up on 80 to 90 percent of patients who have been bitten by an infected deer tick; the rash looks like a bull’s eye.

Incidences of Lyme Disease
Incidences of Lyme Disease

Antibiotics are used to treat Lyme disease if it caught right away. Antibiotics will only be effective if the bite is caught within 72 hours. To determine if you have contracted Lyme disease, blood tests are used to determine if the bacteria is in your blood system. If caught in the first couple days,

If left undiagnosed, Lyme disease can become more serious symptoms like: paralysis of the face muscles, numbness and joint pain. Some other symptoms include joint inflammation and pain, memory loss, and vision and sleep problems. It may take only a couple of weeks up to a couple months before these symptoms are felt.

How to avoid tick bites:

  • If you will be in a place that is thick with tall grasses or brush, tuck your pants into your socks.
  • Long sleeved shirts and hats can give protection, along with bug spray.
  • Wear light colored garments so it is easier to see ticks on your clothes.
  • Once inside, study your entire body, including your hair for ticks.
  • Take off, cleanse and dry your clothing immediately to evade any ticks on your clothing.
  • Treat pets with insect repellents specially formulated for pets and also check their bodies for ticks from time to time.

Though you don’t have to ask yourself “Is Lyme disease contagious?” it is important to understand the symptoms because they mimic other conditions and are difficult to connect because they can occur many months after a tick bite.

You can find out more about the peculiar illness that is Lyme disease and other outdoor health concerns by going to our website.


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      Allan 4 years ago

      These experts would never accept blood or a transfusion from someone who has tested positive for Bb and I would never let my daughter marry a guy who also tested positive for anything that has to do with Lyme. Then there are the stories of a wife being bit by the tick and within a year the whole family is sick; like 6 people. I know areas where every other household on the block has some with Lyme. Go figure?

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      dude 5 years ago

      right on!!!

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      Neil 5 years ago

      This is a complete load of garbage. You have at least doubled the percentage number of people who get the bullseye rash, diagnosis is usually clinical and not via blood test, and there is growing support that Lyme can be caught though human contact. Antibiotics are not only used to treat the disease if caught right away - Antibiotics are used to treat the disease at all stages, with most patients on antibiotics for years (or decades). You're an idiot.