OverviewLyme disease is one of the least understood of the new diseases--and one of the most dreaded. Because undiagnosed or untreated Lyme disease can pose serious health threats, people who develop symptoms such as joint pain and tiredness worry that they may have chronic Lyme disease. Even people with confirmed acute Lyme disease worry that the treatment they're getting won't cure the disease and that it may reappear later in a more debilitating form. These fears are made worse by the well-publicized uncertainties surrounding diagnosis and treatment of the disease. In this book, noted Lyme disease researcher and clinician Alan Barbour presents a comprehensive and even-handed discussion of what we know about the disease and offers medical science's current thinking about its more controversial aspects. Throughout the book, Dr. Barbour uses the stories of four ''patients'' to illustrate the varying course of the disease in different individuals and under different circumstances. A fifth ''patient'' stands as the model for people who, in the absence of a clear diagnosis, remain convinced that Lyme disease explains their symptoms--and as a result suffer for too long without appropriate treatment for what's really ailing them. Including illustrations of ticks and the rashes caused by their bites, as well as maps showing the worldwide distribution of Lyme disease and the relative risk of the disease across the United States, the book offers a wealth of useful information for patients, family members and caregivers, and those who live, work, and play in high-risk areas: Explains how Lyme disease is spread, and who is at risk Describes the symptoms and consequences of Lyme disease, from the rash following a tick bite to the most serious complications, such as infection of the nervous system, joints, and heart Describes all the diagnostic tests for Lyme disease and explains what the test results mean Compares Lyme disease with other conditions, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and explains why they are often mistaken for Lyme disease Presents a compassionate and convincing discussion of depression, which is often the correct diagnosis for a patient who clings to a diagnosis of Lyme disease despite repeated negative diagnostic tests Carefully explains proven and unproven treatments, and summarizes the debates about antibiotic and other treatments Outlines what individuals can do to avoid getting Lyme disease as well as what the community can do to reduce the number of Lyme-carrying ticks Here at last is an intelligent and interesting guide for patients, as well as an insider's tour of medical science. The author includes an explanation of how the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium was discovered in the laboratory and how it was first connected with the disease, a fascinating account of modern medical detective work.