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What Causes Lyme Disease?


Borrelia Burgdorferi

Lyme disease is an infection caused by strains of the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb). This bacteria is typically transmitted to humans through an infected tick bite.

The tick that carries and transmits Lyme disease is too small to notice, about the size of a sesame seed or a period at the end of a sentence. The tick’s saliva has an anesthetic-like substance which numbs your skin, so you may not feel the bite penetrating it.

The Blacklegged Tick

The blacklegged tick is responsible for spreading Lyme disease throughout the United States. There are two types of blacklegged ticks: the Western blacklegged tick and the Eastern blacklegged tick.

Coincidentally, the Western tick is found on the west coast, while the Eastern tick is found on the east coast. A tick can live for many years on just a handful of blood meals.

Host Animals

The tick feed on various animals, or hosts, during its larval, nymph, and adult stages. It typically becomes infected during the larval and nymph stage, when it feeds off small animals such as squirrels, birds, and mice that carry Bb, as well as other bacteria. Once the tick becomes infected, it then passes on the bacteria to a human or another animal during its next feeding cycle.

Common types of animals that carry Bb include:

  • The gray squirrel (commonly found in California and west coast)
  • The white-footed mouse (commonly found on the east coast)
  • Various birds
  • The white-tailed deer
  • The western fence lizard (however, the Bb bacteria is destroyed once it’s inside the lizard)

For more information, contact the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine and speak with our medical team dedicated to the reversal of the chronic illness.