Lyme borreliosis-from tick bite to diagnosis and treatment

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2018 May 1;42(3):233-258. doi: 10.1093/femsre/fux047.


Lyme borreliosis is caused by certain genospecies of the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato complex, which are transmitted by hard ticks of the genus Ixodes. The most common clinical manifestation is erythema migrans, an expanding skin redness that usually develops at the site of a tick bite and eventually resolves even without antibiotic treatment. The infecting pathogens can spread to other tissues and organs, resulting in manifestations that can involve the nervous system, joints, heart and skin. Fatal outcome is extremely rare and is due to severe heart involvement; fetal involvement is not reliably ascertained. Laboratory support-mainly by serology-is essential for diagnosis, except in the case of typical erythema migrans. Treatment is usually with antibiotics for 2 to 4 weeks; most patients recover uneventfully. There is no convincing evidence for antibiotic treatment longer than 4 weeks and there is no reliable evidence for survival of borreliae in adequately treated patients. European Lyme borreliosis is a frequent disease with increasing incidence. However, numerous scientifically questionable ideas on its clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment may confuse physicians and lay people. Since diagnosis of Lyme borreliosis should be based on appropriate clinical signs, solid knowledge of clinical manifestations is essential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis*
  • Lyme Disease / drug therapy*
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology
  • Lyme Disease / transmission
  • Tick Bites*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents