Most people know that Lyme disease can make you sick, but not everyone realizes that it's spread by the bite of a tiny arachnid, similar to a spider, or that it has nothing at all to do with limes. Flu-like symptoms might mean you have the flu, but they can also be the first indicator of a more sinister ailment.
Lyme Disease Has Nothing to Do with Limes
Lyme disease was named for a small town in Connecticut where the disease was first identified in 1977, according to Maine.gov, the official website for the state of Maine. Back then, no one knew that ticks caused infections when they bit people, but when a cluster of people, mostly children, from the town of Lyme all came down with arthritis, doctors grew suspicious. Eventually researchers discovered that an untreated infection caused the arthritis, and later they traced it back to tick bites.
Ticks are Closely Related to Spiders
Most people think of ticks as insects, but they're members of the arachnid family, meaning they have more in common with spiders and scorpions than with insects. Ticks are eight-legged parasites that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, such as deer, white-footed mice and in some cases, humans. Varieties of ticks include the black-legged type that can carry Lyme disease and the American dog tick, responsible for the spread of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Lyme Disease Usually Feels Like the Flu
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. Its symptoms sometimes resemble the common flu, making it difficult to diagnose correctly. A person suffering from Lyme disease might have a fever, nausea and fatigue, and might feel achy all over. Sometimes a red rash appears near the original area of infection. It might resemble a bulls-eye. According to the Mayo Clinic, a patient might not even be aware he was ever bitten by a tick, making diagnosis that much more difficult.
A Picture of the Bulls-Eye Rash Can Aid in Diagnosis
It's not usually necessary to see a doctor just because you were bitten by a tick, but if you develop symptoms, including the red rash near the bite, then it's time to make an appointment. Snap a picture of the rash when it appears, so you have it to show your doctor. While it can last for weeks, it also sometimes dissipates within a day. Having a picture helps your doctor to better diagnose your condition should the rash be gone by the time you see him.