When discussing neuro-infectious diseases, Lyme disease can be considered one of the more novel and mysterious entities currently in existence. Indeed, its formal discovery in the United States was as recent as 1977 and was originally identified as “Lyme arthritis” during studies of a cluster of children in Connecticut who were thought to have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Today, Lyme disease is currently the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in the USA and Europe.
The culprit behind Lyme disease are the Borrelia species. In the USA, Borrelia burgdorferi causes the majority of cases, while in Europe and Asia Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii cause the most burden of disease. They cause a spirochetal infection transmitted by the bite of infected Ixodes ticks. The primary reservoir hosts for B. burgdorferi in northeastern USA are rodents, including white-footed mice, voles, and chipmunks.