About Lyme - Global Lyme Alliance About Lyme - Global Lyme Alliance

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, a complex microbe known as a spirochete. Lyme disease is a multi-staged, multi-systemic illness. Presentations vary by stage: acute (early stage) and chronic (late stage or persisting) illness.

Lyme is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the United States and Western Europe. If untreated, it can become a severely debilitating illness affecting multiple organs, including joints, heart, brain and other parts of the central nervous system.

How do you get Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is transmitted from the bite of an infected blacklegged (deer) tick. Ticks look for hosts to feed–hosts can include pets, deer, mice, birds, squirrels, some reptiles, and yes, people.

Who gets Lyme disease?

We are all at risk. Men, women, children, pets are all susceptible. The most at risk groups are children under the age of 15, adults over 50, and outdoor workers. Anyone who is exposed to infected ticks is at risk.

427,000+ people DIAGNOSED in U.S. each year

This is more than hepatitis C, HIV, colon cancer, and breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Lyme Disease


Breast Cancer


Colon Cancer




Hepatitis C



Only 1 in 10 cases

are officially reported because criteria and testing accuracy vary greatly.

95% of confirmed cases were reported from 14 states and the District of Columbia. While Lyme is most prevalent in the Northeast and upper Midwest, it has been reported in all 50 states and 80 countries.

25X The number of cases reported annually has increased nearly 25-fold since national surveillance began in 1982.

Research Funding Disparity

Government funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research is disproportionately low when considering the footprint of the disease. This highlights the importance of private funding for research.

Breast Cancer
Colon Cancer
Lyme Disease

*Dollars in millions and rounded. Estimated funding in 2014 by National Institutes of Health (NIH).

diagnosis dilemma

Many patients go undiagnosed far too long, causing chronic disabilities.

< 50%


Fewer than 50% of patients with Lyme recall any rash.

< 50%


Fewer than 50% of patients with Lyme remember a tick bite.



It is estimated that 20%-30% of people who are treated for medically documented Lyme disease develop chronic pain, fatigue, and neurological symptoms.



The common ELISA test you receive at your doctor’s office misses 35% to 50% of culture-proven Lyme.

5 Top Myths About Lyme Disease

MYTH #1: Lyme always causes a bull’s-eye rash.
FACT: Less than 50% of those infected with Lyme develop a bull’s-eye rash.

MYTH #2: You’ll know when you’ve been bitten by a tick.
FACT: Ticks have a numbing agent in their saliva, so you don’t feel a bite.

MYTH #3: Lyme is an East Coast illness only.
FACT: Although more prevalent in the Northeast and Midwest, Lyme has been reported in all 50 states and is growing globally.

MYTH #4: Ticks fall from trees.
FACT: Despite the myth, ticks don’t fly, jump or fall from trees onto a host. They climb up your body until they attach and feed.

MYTH #5: You have to be near deer to be exposed to deer ticks.
FACT: Not true. Black legged ticks also feed on small mice, squirrels, rabbits, birds, dogs and cats.

Diagnosis Info
Learn about diagnosing Lyme disease including stages, testing and symptoms.