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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Lyme Disease - Signs and Symptoms

Lyme disease symptoms change from person to person, making it hard to diagnose.

 

What are the symptoms?

During the first stage of Lyme disease, symptoms may include:1,2

  • A "bull's eye" rash 
  • Headache
  • Fever or chills
  • Fatigue (tiredness), or
  • Muscle and joint pain.

A "bull's eye" rash does not appear in all people infected with Lyme disease. It typically occurs in 70 to 80 percent of those infected and it varies in shape and size.2 If left untreated, Lyme disease can affect the joints, heart or nervous system resulting in long-term health effects.12

 

Bull's Eye Rash

A circular rash caused by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick is called erythema migrans, which is commonly known as the “bull’s eye” rash.2

A picture of a circular rash caused by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, called erythema migrans or commonly known as the “bull’s-eye” rash.

Photo Credit: James Gathany. Content Provider: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Image Library (PHIL).3

 

When would the signs or symptoms of Lyme disease start to appear?

If a human does become infected with Lyme disease, the symptoms usually begin within three days to one month after being bitten by an infected tick.2

Many of the first symptoms also happen with other diseases, which may make it harder to tell if someone has Lyme disease. If you develop any of these symptoms following a tick bite go see your doctor right away. It is important to tell your doctor the geographical location of where you may have been bitten by a tick.1 For example, if you were hiking at Point Pelee National Park, you would let the doctor know this as it is an area where blacklegged ticks and Lyme disease are found. If you saved the tick that bit you bring it to your doctor's appointment or submit a tick to the Health Unit for identification.

Can Lyme disease in humans be treated?

Anyone bitten by a blacklegged tick should contact their healthcare provider to determine next steps. Please use this resource when talking with your healthcare provider:

Antibiotics may be given to a person if they are showing the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.2 This would be done to prevent further health problems from happening. The sooner you get treatment, the better your chance of recovery.1

Things that help decide if antibiotics should be given are:

  • Did the person visit an area known to have Lyme disease?
  • Did a tick bite the person and stay attached for longer than 24 hours?
  • Is the tick available to be tested?
  • Is the person showing signs or symptoms of Lyme disease?

Additional Information

For more information about Lyme Disease, please contact the Vector-Borne Disease team at:

  • 519-663-5317

Copyright

Please note: Where indicated, the source of the information on this web page is the Government of Canada's Symptoms of Lyme disease web page. The information is a copy of the version available at the URL in the references section below, OR the source of information is Public Health Ontario. © Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2016.

 
Date of creation: November 1, 2012
Last modified on: April 27, 2021
 
 

References

1Government of Canada. (2017, June 13). Symptoms of Lyme disease. Retrieved from
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/lyme-disease/symptoms-lyme-disease.html
2Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). (2016, June). Technical report: Update on Lyme disease prevention and control (Second edition). Retrieved from
http://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/eRepository/Technical_report_update_on_Lyme_disease_prevention_and_control.pdf
3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2007). Public Health Image Library (PHIL). Retrieved from http://phil.cdc.gov/phil/home.asp