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Lyme disease - primary

  • Alternative Names

    Early localized Lyme infection; Lyme borreliosis; Stage 1 Lyme disease; Lyme disease - primary


    The first stage of Lyme disease is considered the "primary" or early stage.

    Not everyone infected with the Lyme disease bacteria gets ill. Among those who do become ill, the first symptoms resemble the flu and include:

    • Chills
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Lethargy
    • Muscle pain

    There may be a "bulls eye" rash -- a flat or slightly raised red spot at the site of the tick bite often with a clear area in the center. This spot can be larger than 1 - 3 inches wide.

    Signs and tests

    A blood test can be done to check for antibodies to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. The most common one used is the ELISA for Lyme disease test. A Western blot test is done to confirm ELISA results.

    The tests are usually not positive in the first few weeks after the tick bite. They are often not accurate early in the disease. Early treatment with antibiotics may prevent this test from ever being positive.

    A skin biopsy can sometimes identify the Lyme disease bacteria.