Lyme disease

Lyme disease is an infectious disease that enters the body through a tick bite. It is a non-alimentary zoonotic disease: a disease that is transferred from animals to humans outside the food chain. Besides funding research into Lyme disease, we also facilitate the implementation of the Lyme disease action plan.

Tick bite

If you have been bitten by a tick there is a chance that you will develop Lyme disease, which has symptoms such as fever and sometimes pain in the muscles and joints. Not everyone gets ill from a tick bite, however. According to the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), there are 1.5 million tick bites in the Netherlands each year. Around 27,000 people develop Lyme disease, and some 1000 to 1500 people have persistent symptoms. The disease is not limited to the Netherlands, and is in fact an international problem. There is concern about the disease among both politicians and the public.

Tackling the problem together

Patients’ organisations, researchers, policymakers, companies and healthcare professionals drew up a Lyme disease action plan (only in Dutch) in in 2016, which identifies subjects for research and other activities relating to basic knowledge (including about Borrelia infection and the disease), diagnostics, treatment and prevention. Ticks can spread a number of other diseases, including tick-borne encephalitis and tick fever, as well as Lyme disease.

Working to improve the situation for patients

Efforts to improve the situation for patients take two forms: research and other activities. ZonMw facilitates research on some of the subjects in the action plan. Several parties are responsible for the other activities in the plan. The Dutch Centre of Expertise on Lyme Disease (NLe), for example, is to devise action on certain topics for practitioners and/or researchers, based partly on the action plan.


If you have any questions, you can find our contact details below.


Linda van Nierop

Senior Programme Manager Infectious Diseases
infectiousdisease [at]