The Three Stages of Lyme Disease


Stage 1. Early Symptoms

  • Flu-like illness (headache, fever, fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, muscle pains)
  • Rash at the site of the tick bite referred to as Erythema Migrans or Bull's Eye Rash (less than 50% experience this).

Tick bite rashThe Lyme rash starts a few days, or even several weeks, after the tick bite and then expands over a period of days to several inches across, perhaps with a central clearing. Untreated, it can last for weeks before fading, or it may fade and recur.

  • The rash may have an irregular shape, blisters or a scabby appearance
  • Some rashes have a bruise-like appearance
  • Lyme rashes can mimic spider bite, ringworm, or cellulitis
  • Multiple, so-called "satellite" rashes may appear on different parts of the body.

If you develop a rash, take a photo of it and see a doctor as soon as possible. Lyme can be treated cost-effectively at this stage.

Stage 2. Disseminated

Within days to weeks Lyme (borrelia) spreads through the body. The bacteria spreads through the bloodstream to organs and other areas within the body.  

Symptoms include:    Bacteria

  • Blurred vision  
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Eye pain
  • Numbness
  • Tremors
  • Encephalitis
  • Bell's Palsy

Appropriate treatment prevents later progression of the disease to Chronic Lyme.  The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) has released an evidence-based comprehensive set of Lyme Disease Treatment Guidelines to assist doctors and public health officials  involved in the evaluation and treatment of Lyme disease.

Stage 3. Late or Chronic

If left untreated, Lyme Disease can lead to an ongoing and worsening disease process persisting for months or years after the initial infection. At this stage treatment becomes complex and expensive.

Symptoms include:

  • Neurological symptoms worsen (neuroborreliosis)
  • Encephalopathy
  • Chronic Lyme Arthritis

For a full list of symptoms refer to Lyme Disease Association of Australia.


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