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Lyme Disease (cont.)

Lyme Disease Causes and Risk Factors

B. burgdorferi bacteria cause Lyme disease. The bacteria have a complex life cycle, spending part of their life in the deer tick and part in some mammals such as mice and deer.

Humans are not a part of the bacterium's life cycle but can become infected when bitten by the tick. Lyme disease is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person.

While dogs and cats can get Lyme disease, there are no reported cases of these animals spreading the disease to their owners. However, dogs and cats can bring the infected ticks into the home, which is one reason why tick protection for pets is important. Talk to a veterinarian about the right type of tick control for any pets.

Risk factors for getting Lyme disease include the following:

  • Living in the northeastern or Midwestern U.S. states where the disease is most prevalent
  • Being outdoors in the woods or areas that have tall grass, shrubs, or brush
  • Fishing, camping, hunting, yard work, hiking, and other outdoor activities in tick-infested areas
  • Having bare, unprotected skin when outdoors in high-risk areas
  • Pets who are not protected against ticks may bring them indoors.
  • Not removing attached ticks promptly
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/17/2015

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Lyme disease is due to infection with the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and the body's immune response to the infection.

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