16 Facts You Need To Know About Lyme Disease

tent outdoors by a river

Last Updated on February 17, 2023 by Lori Geurin

Find out 16 facts about Lyme disease and what you need to know to protect yourself from this debilitating disease.

You’ve probably heard that Justin Bieber was recently diagnosed with Lyme disease. Yet even before he shared this, people have been talking more about Lyme — and with good reason. According to top (and beloved) Duke oncologist Dr. Neil Spector, who passed away in June of 2020.

“Lyme is the infectious disease equivalent of cancer.”

-Dr. Neil Spector

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Dr. Spector had to have a heart transplant because of irreversible heart failure, which was caused by undiagnosed Lyme disease, and recently passed away from complications of Lyme.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are infected with Lyme each year. It’s now 6 times more common than AIDS. And nearly 2 times more common than breast cancer.

You may have heard of the bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi that causes Lyme. This is the one that people talk about the most. But, in fact,

There are 5 subspecies of Borrelia Burgdorferi, over 100 strains in the USA, and 300 strains worldwide. This diversity is thought to contribute to the antigenic variability of the spirochete and its ability to evade the immune system and antibiotic therapy, leading to chronic infection.” (1)

-International Lyme And Associated Diseases (ILADS)

The bacterium is a spiral-shaped spirochete. Try saying that 5 times fast.

But all joking aside, Lyme disease is no laughing matter. In fact, it’s a grim topic for any of the millions of us who have it or have had it. Lyme is a worldwide disease and has been reported in all 50 states. 

This video from Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, with Todd Lipine, MD, is on how to recover from chronic Lyme and tick-borne diseases.

Below you’ll learn what you need to know about Lyme disease.


lyme disease / camper outside

16 Interesting Facts About Lyme Disease

1. Lyme disease is a national epidemic.

Over 427,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year, according to the CDC. This is 10 times more than previously reported.

Furthermore, Lyme is underdiagnosed and under-reported. This means that many people have Lyme and co-infections but don’t have a diagnosis and are not receiving treatment.

2. Lyme is called “The Great Imitator.”

This is because it can mimic other conditions such as arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, Bells Palsy, ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS, ADD, Lupus, and others.

This also makes diagnosing it difficult because it looks like so many other diseases.

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3. Less than 50% of Lyme disease patients recall a tick bite. 

The ticks are often the size of a poppy seed and go undetected. A tick can be as tiny as the period at the end of this sentence. (2)

4. Less than 50% of Lyme disease patients recall a rash. 

Many people never get a bulls-eye rash despite what you may have heard. Some may encounter other types of rashes, but many don’t recall a rash at all. (3, 4)


5. Lyme disease impacts 6 times more people in the U.S. than HIV/AIDS, yet it receives less than 1% of the funding.

And Lyme is nearly twice as common as breast cancer. Yet insurance doesn’t cover long-term treatment for chronically ill Lyme patients. So they have to pay out-of-pocket for expensive treatments.

As a result, many cannot work anymore. Some have even lost their homes simply trying to pay for proper medical care. Something is very wrong with this picture.

Related: Warning: Lyme Disease Is Spreading Faster Than AIDS

6. According to the CDC, Lyme disease is the fastest-growing vector-borne disease (VBD) in the U.S.

Vectors include ticks, mosquitoes, flies, parasites, sandflies, fleas, and freshwater snails.

Related: CDC Reports VBDs Way Up

7. Anyone can get Lyme disease. 

But children and those with lower immune function are among the most susceptible. People exposed to mold, parasites, and systemic infection are also especially vulnerable.

Related: How To Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally

8. There are 5 subspecies of Borrelia Burgdorferi (the Lyme spirochete), over 100 strains in the U.S. and 300 strains worldwide. (5)

And the alarming fact is that these spirochetes are adapting to the environment. They can change forms to evade antibiotics.

The different forms include:

  • the cyst form
  • cell-wall-deficient form
  • spirochete form.

Also, the tests used to diagnose Lyme only test for one strain of Lyme disease bacteria and are notoriously inaccurate. (More on this below, in number 11.)

Check out these 8 Communication Skills To Improve Your Relationships.

tick on a flower
Ticks can carry many diseases, including Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

9. The number of cases of Lyme reported annually has increased nearly 25-fold since national surveillance started in 1982. (6)

And that doesn’t even include all the unreported cases.

10. Lyme is transmitted by a tick bite. 

Ticks are everywhere. They know no borders. So if you are sick and have Lyme disease symptoms, go to a Lyme-literate doctor. Here’s a link where you can go to find a doctor who specializes in treating patients with Lyme disease.

Also, according to Dr. Willie Burgdorfer, who discovered Lyme disease, spirochetes were found in mosquitoes and horse flies. However, they don’t yet know the rate of transmission by these vectors. (7)

Related: Experts Warn Of Increased Lyme Disease Risk

11. The most commonly given Lyme disease test is the ELISA test.

There are many legitimate concerns about Lyme disease test accuracy.

For example, the most widely used test is unreliable and may miss over 50% of culture-proven Lyme disease. (8) Currently, the most sensitive test is the IgG and ImG Western Blot tests, available through the IGeneX Lab in Palo Alto.

12. People who spend a lot of time outdoors are more likely to get Lyme. 

If you spend time working outside in the grass or woods, apply a tick-repellent before going out. And make sure to be vigilant to check for ticks when you come inside.

Also, it’s best to remove your clothes when you come inside and wash and dry them. Finally, check thoroughly for ticks before taking a shower.

This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s much better than the alternative. For more ways to protect yourself from Lyme disease and tick bites, you’ll wanna check out Top 10 Ways To Prevent Lyme Disease (And Other Tick-Borne Diseases)

13. Test for other tick-borne illnesses too. 

These co-infections include Babesia, Tularemia, Anaplasma, Bartonella, Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick Fever, and Ehrlichia. If any of these or others are present and left untreated, it can reduce the chance of successful Lyme disease treatment. (9)

14. There are no studies that show that 30 days of antibiotic treatment cure chronic Lyme disease. 

According to ilads.org, “Short treatment courses have resulted in upwards of a 40% relapse rate, especially if treatment is delayed.” (10)

Related: 21 Strategies To Fight Lyme Disease Naturally

15. When first bitten, common symptoms include …

  • flu-like symptoms
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • fatigue
  • muscle pain
  • vision problems
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • swollen glands
  • rashes
  • neck stiffness and pain
  • trouble sleeping
  • chills
  • sweats. 

You can read The Signs, Symptoms, And Stages Of Lyme Disease for more details about the wide variety of symptoms you can have with Lyme.

16. Lyme can cause long-term complications when it goes untreated. 

And unfortunately, the average Lyme disease patient sees 5 different doctors over the course of about 2 years before being diagnosed. This was my experience too.

By this time, the disease can damage the body tremendously, and patients often end up having long-term health problems. (11) At this point, it is called late-stage or chronic Lyme.

Related: Untreated Lyme Disease: In Pursuit Of A New Normal

Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms Include:

  • Extreme exhaustion, not relieved by sleeping or resting
  • Inability to control facial muscles
  • Heart problems, such as pericarditis
  • Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
  • Arthritis, often in the larger joints, such as the knees
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty thinking or reasoning
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Anxiety, panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Tremor
  • Sensitivity to sound, light, and smells
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Mood swings, depression
  • Sleep disorders
  • Migrating joint and muscle pain
  • Vertigo
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Vision difficulties
  • Weight gain or loss
  • “Air hunger”
  • Pain in the chest or ribs
  • “Heart block”
  • Neck pain, stiffness, and cracking
  • Night sweats
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Heart murmur or valve prolapse
  • Light-headedness, dizziness
  • Menstrual irregularity
Lyme disease / tent and a river
16 Interesting Facts About Lyme Disease LoriGeurin.com

Here are 50 fun facts about yourself to energize conversation.

More About The Symptoms & Stages Of Lyme

Several years ago, I was desperate for answers when I had many of the most common Lyme disease symptoms, and none of the doctors could figure out what was wrong with me. I spent many hours researching independently, determining what was causing my health problems.

Thankfully, I was eventually tested for Lyme and co-infections and diagnosed with Lyme and tularemia. Yet, so many people are still searching and wondering why they suffer from the above symptoms.

Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, autoimmune conditions, or chronic fatigue syndrome – as I was initially.

But, like me, you wonder, what is causing all of this? Why am I in pain and exhausted all the time?

I created a Lyme resource to help answer your questions. The guide gives you:

  • more details about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases
  • valuable information on diagnosis and testing
  • where to find financial help for Lyme patients
  • prevention tips
  • encouragement
  • instructions for how to properly remove a tick
  • and more…

all based on research. Simply click below to check it out.

Summary – Facts About Lyme Disease

As you can see, Lyme is a severe and debilitating disease that affects so many people. Likewise, it’s crucial to know the facts about Lyme disease.

I hope this article has helped you learn more about Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses to protect yourself and your family.

Do you know anyone with Lyme or tick-borne disease? What do you think about this information?

Reporter Linda Simmons from KY3 News interviewed me about my experience with Lyme disease. You can watch the interview here.

If you enjoyed these facts about Lyme disease, you’ll want to check out:

Please note, that the information provided in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to treat, prevent, diagnose, or cure any disease or health problem.

39 thoughts on “16 Facts You Need To Know About Lyme Disease”

  1. A co-worker had Lyme Disease and boy did she go through it! I spent a bunch of time outdoors this summer and was fortunate not to get bit.

  2. It is definitely an epidemic. Growing up I never heard of Lyme and we never used bug spray unless in the deep woods. Today, we don’t play anywhere without precaution.

  3. This is such a scary disease and it sounds as though it’s very much on the increase. I’ve heard of it before but don’t know anyone who has it. Thanks so much for sharing and helping to raise awareness.

  4. We need to be aware of this disease, we don’t know how hard it is for other people who are suffering from it. Sending lots of love!

    1. I love spending time outdoors too…I don’t want to cause undue worry, just want people to be aware. 🙂 Lyme is preventable, so using tick repellent and checking for ticks when you come back inside are some effective strategies for helping to keep your family safe. Thanks!

  5. I’ve always known that it’s a threat and that you should definitely make sure that you’re safe from it, but I never knew the depth of Lyme disease and all the facts. This is really informative!

  6. It is actually crazy how many people I know who have lyme disease and how long it took for them to be diagnosed. It is definitely something that needs more awareness, because it is preventable!

    1. Wow, I really hate to hear this! I’m so sorry your friends have been through this too. Unfortunately it’s happening way too often.

      And you’re right – it is preventable. I’m ready for all the needless suffering to stop! We’re seeing some movement in the right direction, like the CDC coming out a couple of years ago, admitting to drastic under-reporting of the disease. But SO much more needs to be done in the areas of diagnostic practices, increased funding for research, increasing the length of treatments and some doctors accepting that Lyme is everywhere. (stepping down off my soapbox, for now)

      I’m so thankful that there are some awesome doctors out there who are educated on the facts about Lyme and care deeply about helping Lyme patients heal.

  7. Quirky Homemaker

    Lyme disease is so scary to me! There have been reported cases in our area and we’ve had a couple bad tick years. My family thinks I’m a little neurotic about checking for ticks, but I feel I have good reason! Thanks for sharing these Lyme disease facts with us.

  8. Morgan Bourgeois

    I think it is great that you took the time to really explain this disease. I had no idea what it was about at all, and as a pre-med student, I the knowledge I have gained from this post is great.

  9. I feel like this is something that everyone has heard of, but not a lot of people know a lot about. I think it is great that you are spreading more information so people can be more aware of this disease.

    1. I think you’re exactly right that people have heard of Lyme but aren’t necessarily familiar with what is actually is. This was me before I got it. Thank you, Jessica.

  10. Lyme disease should be something that we pay more attention to especially since it can be really dangerous.I didn’t know that it received so little funding! That’s alarming to say the least.

    1. I agree completely, Karen. The prevalence of Lyme has been minimized for far too long and it’s really devastating when not treated. It is alarming and impacting so many people right now. Something has to change.

  11. This is really terrifying. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease at 20. And I was given an antibiotic and it went away. I did have to breath with an inhaler for a while because my breathing had become compromised. But I didn’t know much about Lyme back then and am always overcome by how horrible it can be. I guess I was really lucky.

    1. It truly is….I’m so thankful you were treated promptly and were able to overcome Lyme, Erica. For several years I had shortness of breath due to the Lyme. It was like I could never catch my breath…I’m not sure if this is the same as what you experienced. At any rate, I’m so glad your body was able to heal!

  12. This is so informative. It’s so important as you know to help educate people. Thanks for collecting all the right info here.

  13. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. I know people who past real hel with this disease. Its good to be informed thank you .

    1. I was not really diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I had gotten to the point of one side of your body being paralysed. I was 15 years old at time, lived in New Jersey at the time and my entire right side looked like I had a stroke. Was in the hospital with my mom and doctors telling us I did have stroke. Mom said nope it is this new disease. Doctors then said I had MS. Mom argued with about 8 other Docs. for about 3 hrs to get me antibiotics. To get rid of us they wrote a bunch of scripts .Now only have migraines to deal with. And I was one of the first patients to get it. Thanks Sue

      1. Hi Sue! Wow, 15 is so young to have to deal with such a debilitating illness. Your mom sounds like a strong lady. I’m thankful she advocated for you. It’s something I’ve had to learn but it’s so important. So sorry you’re still dealing with migraines. I’m curious if you’ve tried acupuncture because it’s helped me sooo much with migraines and headaches in general.

        I know someone else who had Lyme in their teens when they lived in New Jersey. I know it prevalent in the Northeast, but we have it here in Missouri too. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! xx, Lori

  14. We live in a really woody area and this is my biggest fear. This is the number one thing we always search for whenever we go outside to play.

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