Lyme Disease 101: From Tick Bites to Neurological Problems

Medically Reviewed by Carolin Schneider, MD

Photo Courtesy: Judita Juknele/EyeEm/Getty Images

Taking its name from the coastal town of Lyme, Connecticut, Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. So, what exactly causes Lyme disease? In short, the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted through tick bites, causes Lyme disease. 

While the bacterium can be transmitted by several species of tick, the biggest culprit is the black-legged deer tick. In order for an infection of Lyme disease to occur, the tick must remain attached to an individual for at least 36 to 48 hours. However, other tick-borne infections can occur in a shorter amount of time. In fact, individuals who come down with Lyme disease can also be infected with other tick-borne diseases and conditions, such as Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis, from the same bite.

The vast majority of cases occur during the warm spring and summer months, with 94% of all cases occurring in the following 12 states:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

It should also be noted that cases occur frequently in the northern, forested region of California.