Grows on Stuff

Lyme Bacterium

This is Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that cause Lyme disease. It is a spiral-shaped bacterium that is frequently carried by deer ticks of the genus Ixodes. When the deer tick bites a human being, the bacteria are transmitted to the human bloodstream, where it travels throughout the body. The symptoms of Lyme disease are kind of like the flu, but the disease sticks around for a long time unless treated right away. This is a whole bacterium as seen with the TEM. It is about 20 micrometers (0.02 millimeters or 0.0008 inch) long and about 200 nanometers (0.2 micrometers or 0.0002 millimeters or 0.000008 inch) wide. This is one of the smallest things on this web site.

Original image courtesy of Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH.


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