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Early Lyme Disease Symptoms

Not all patients will experience the same early symptoms of Lyme disease. However, the most common early symptom of the condition is a circular rash called erythema migrans (EM).

Early Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

The characteristic early Lyme disease symptom is a circular rash called erythema migrans, or EM. This rash occurs in approximately 70-80 percent of people infected with Lyme disease. It begins at the site of a tick bite, and usually takes about 3-30 days to show up. The EM rash gradually expands over a period of several days, reaching up to 12 inches (30 cm) across. The center of the rash may clear as it enlarges, resulting in a bullseye appearance. The rash may be warm, but it is not usually painful. Some patients develop additional EM rashes in other areas of the body after several days. Patients can also experience other early Lyme disease symptoms, including:
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
In some cases, these may be the only symptoms of infection.

About Lyme Disease

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