Under a magnification of 158X, this photomicrograph of a heart tissue sample that had been processed using Warthin-Starry stain, revealed the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which due to their corkscrew shape, are known as spirochetes (arrowheads).
The bacterium, B. burgdorferi is the cause of Lyme disease, also known as borreliosis, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.