Lyme disease was first discovered in 1975 in Lyme, Connecticut when an increased number of individuals were diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Samples of their blood, cerebral spinal fluid, and other tissues were evaluated in the lab, and the causal agent was found to be the Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease.

Since then, our understanding of the disease has expanded. It has become an even greater concern over the past few years due to the drastic increase in incidence of the disease. In 2009, CDC estimated over 37,000 probable cases nationwide. In 2009, CDC confirmed over 4,000 cases in Massachusetts alone. The rise in incident cases can be attributed to five main causes:

  1. increased vector abundance;
  2. overabundant deer population;
  3. increased recognition and diagnosis of the disease;
  4. newly developed residential areas in wooded areas;
  5. increased interaction between humans and other species, including ticks

These high incidence rates are of great concern, and should lead to increased efforts from public health professionals to address the problem. This module serves as a tool in an effort to disseminate knowledge to public health officials regarding Lyme disease in an attempt to counter the problem in our nearby communities.


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Learning Objectives

After successfully completing this module, you will be able to: 

  1. State the causative agent of Lyme disease.
  2. Explain the roles of the vector, hosts, and reservoirs of the disease.
  3. Identify the vector (deer tick).
  4. Explain the method of transmission.
  5. Define the people who are at greatest risk of developing Lyme disease.
  6. Define common symptoms of the disease.
  7. Explain how Lyme disease is diagnosed.
  8. Outline the general treatment options.
  9. Explain the options for preventing and controlling Lyme Disease, with particular emphasis on personal prevention.
  10. Explain the role of the LBOH in disease reporting and surveillance.
  11. Discuss the "Chronic Lyme Disease Controversy."