Lyme disease

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria transmitted by the bite of an infected tick (small blood-sucking insect). The bite causes a peculiar rash and symptoms which are similar to arthritis. In addition to causing arthritis, this disease has also been known to cause heart and nerve problems.

You are likely to contract this disease if you are living in a grassy and heavily wooded area where ticks thrive. You should take serious precautions if you are on a vacation at such a spot.​

Symptoms of ticks are easily visible.

First phase:

  • A rash will appear around the tick bite and it’ll evolve as a red expanding circle around the tick bite

  • Other symptoms like flu, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, joint pain and swollen lymph nodes might accompany the rash

Second phase:

  • If the symptoms are not treated in the first phase, rashes will appear on other parts of the body and will start to affect your joints. This will also cause body pains and eventually cause facial paralysis.

Third phase:

  • In the third stage, the disease causes detrimental problems. You will notice your joints swelling. You will be affected by severe diarrhoea, and your immune system will witness abnormal sensations. This can also move to inflamed brain nerves and heart muscles.

Not all ticks lead to Lyme disease. The longer a tick remains itching, the higher you risk of getting the infection. If you think you’ve been bitten by a tick and you see signs and symptoms, you should consult the Internal Medicine Service Line​ at The Aga Khan University Hospital. You should see your doctor even if symptoms do not show. Absence of symptoms does not mean that the infection does not exist in the body. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause arthritis and other types of fevers.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Symptoms for Lyme disease are not always visible. You doctor will ask for your medical history and will also inquire about your recent habitat.

Lab tests will be suggested by your doctors to identify anti bodies that will help confirm the diagnosis. These include:

  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. The test used most often to detect Lyme disease, but because it can sometimes provide false-positive results, it's not used as the only basis for diagnosis. This test might not be positive during the early stage of Lyme disease, but the rash is distinctive enough to make the diagnosis without further testing.

  • Western blot test. If the ELISA test is positive, this test is usually conducted to confirm the diagnosis. In this two-step approach, the Western blot detects antibodies.​

If the diagnosis is confirmed, you will be treated with medications for quick and easy recovery.

  • Oral medications: This is the standard treatment for early-stage Lyme disease. A 14 to 21 day course of medications is usually recommended, but some doctors also suggest that courses lasting 10 to 14 days are equally effective.

  • Intravenous medications: If the disease has spread to the central nervous system, our doctors might recommend treatment with an intravenous medications for 14 to 28 days. This is vital in eradicating the infection; however, it will take time for you to recover from your symptoms. This kind of treatment has various side effects, including your white blood cell count decreasing, mild to severe diarrhea, or colonization or infection with other antibiotic-resistant organisms unrelated to Lyme.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage


The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.