Pop superstar Justin Bieber recently took to Instagram to announce his battle with Lyme disease.
"While a lot of people kept saying Justin Bieber looks like s---, on meth etc. they failed to realize I've been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease," the 25-year-old wrote. The post comes on the heels of recent backlash over his physical appearance.
But what many may not know is how dangerous Lyme disease can be. Here, we share important information about the illness, such as preventive measures, how to handle tick bites and what to do if you're afflicted.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and, rarely, Borrelia mayonii, that's transmitted via infected tick bites.
Symptoms generally appear after one week, with approximately 70 to 80% of people experiencing a classic “bull's eye” rash at the site of the bite.
Symptoms in the acute phase include fever, headache and fatigue. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. People also may experience lingering symptoms that last months or even years, such as muscle and joint pain, cognitive defects and sleep disturbances.
Is there a treatment for Lyme disease?
Once confirmed with laboratory testing, most cases can be treated for a few weeks with antibiotics. According to the Mayo Clinic, Lyme disease should be treated immediately and may require intravenous antibiotics if the case is severe.
Is there a time or place at a higher risk for Lyme disease?
Individuals are more likely to contract the illness in the late spring, summer and fall.
Lyme disease is most commonly found in the Northeast and upper Midwest, with 96% of all cases in 14 states -- Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Are there any preventive measures to avoid Lyme disease?
The Cleveland Clinic recommends preventive measures including wearing a hat and tucking your pant legs into your socks when hiking.
When hiking or in wooded areas, you also could spray your clothing with insecticides. They also recommend always doing a "tick check" after being outside and wearing insect repellent with Deet.
What should I do if I am bitten by a tick
If you are ever in a situation where you are bitten by a tick, the Cleveland Clinic recommends tugging gently but firmly near the head of the tick until it releases its hold on the skin.
Take caution to avoid crushing or handling a tick with bare fingers, and swab the bite thoroughly with antiseptic to prevent bacterial infection.
Do not squeeze the tick's body with your fingers or tweezers, or use kerosene, petroleum jelly or cigarette butts to try to remove the tick from your skin.
John Smith, M.D., is a psychiatry resident from Medical University of South Carolina contributing to the ABC News Medical Unit.