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Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

The first symptom of Lyme disease in most people is an expanding red skin rash (called erythema migrans or an EM rash). In about a third of people, the rash looks like a bull's-eye, with a pale center area surrounded by a bright red rim. The rash is often accompanied by flu-like symptoms, including:

About 20% of people have viruslike symptoms only (no rash) or have no symptoms at all.

If Lyme disease is not detected and treated while early symptoms are present, or if a person never has early symptoms that trigger the need for treatment, the infection may spread to the heart, the joints, the brain and spinal cord (nervous system), or sites on the skin.

Heart and nervous system problems may develop weeks to months after the initial infection, including:

Damage to the joints, nerves, and brain may develop months to years after a person becomes infected, causing:


Credits for Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Current as of: July 1, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Christine Hahn MD - Epidemiology
W. David Colby IV MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease


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