Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is known as a spirochete because of its long, corkscrew shape. This photograph shows the typical corkscrew appearance of a spirochete. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Review Date 3/4/2020
Updated by: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.