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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lyme disease is a condition caused by human exposure (by biting) to ticks that are infected with a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is a spirochete. A spirochete, in turn, is a bacteria in the shape of a worm which causes diseases such as syphillis.

Lyme disease was not identified until the mid 1970's in the town of Lyme, CT, when parents of a group of kids diagnosed with R.A. (Rheumatoid Arthritis) after also being told that they had a bacterial infection. Since the two do not go together (RA is not a consequence of bacterial infection, nor vice versa) the parents further investigated with the result that in 1982 the disease finally was classified and named as "Lyme disease."

The symptoms of this condition manifest themselves in three stages: The early stage is the initial bite, where the bacteria gets punctured into the skin, leaving a huge rash with flu-like symptoms. The second stage affects the nerves and some muscles, such as the heart. The last stage involves brain damage.

Most cases can be treated with antibiotics, but prevention is the best cure.