SARASOTA, Fla. -- According to the Florida Department of Health, Lyme disease (LD) is caused by a bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected tick. In the southeastern U.S. the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) is the suspected vector.
The disease was first identified along the Connecticut River in 1975, and is the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in the United States. However, most cases are reported in the northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and north central regions of the country.
Between 60 and 80% of people will develop a red, "bull's eye" rash (erythema migrans or EM) three to 30 days after being bitten by an infected tick. This rash does not always appear at the site of the bite, and may occur on another part of the body. Other symptoms include fever, headache, chills, fatigue, stiff neck or muscle aches.
In Florida, 673 cases of Lyme disease were reported from 2002 through 2011 (average 67 cases per year). Of these, 23% were acquired in Florida and 77% were acquired while the person was traveling in another state or country. Of the infections acquired in Florida, the majority were reported from counties in the northern and central regions of the state. Lyme cases are typically reported in Florida year-round.
Fritz CL, Kjemtrup, AM. Zoonosis Update: Lyme borreliosis. JAVMA 2003. (151KB PDF)