Lyme Disease Home > Early Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Fatigue, fever, and a characteristic rash are common early symptoms of Lyme disease. The bacterium that causes Lyme disease can infect several parts of the body, producing different symptoms at different times. Not all people who are infected will experience all the early signs and symptoms associated with this disease.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

The first sign of infection with Lyme disease is usually a circular rash called erythema migrans, or EM. This rash occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of people infected with the disease and begins at the site of the tick bite that caused the infection. Usually, the rash appears after a delay of 3 to 30 days from when the bite occurred. A distinctive feature of the EM rash is that it gradually expands over a period of several days, reaching up to 12 inches (30 cm) across. The center of the rash may become clear as it enlarges, resulting in a bullseye appearance. It may be warm, but it usually isn't painful. Some people develop additional EM rashes in other areas of the body after several days. People can also experience other early symptoms of Lyme disease, including:
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
In some cases, these may be the only symptoms of infection.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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