By Tim Reid in Washington
President Bush was treated for Lyme disease after he developed the characteristic “bull’s-eye” rash that marks the beginning of the tick-borne infection.
The disclosure, which the White House had kept secret for nearly 12 months, was made in Mr Bush’s annual medical report. It also stated that he has suffered mild vertigo in recent weeks, but that he was otherwise in excellent health.
Lyme disease is transmitted through tick bites. If left untreated it can lead to arthritis and neurological disorders, but if diagnosed early it is treated easily with antibiotics. The White House said that Mr Bush received the standard treatment for the rash on his left shin and developed no other symptoms.
Doctors believe that Mr Bush received the tick bite while on a mountain bike, his main form of exercise. He has been advised to wear trousers and long-sleeved shirts, and to apply insect repellent before biking, especially in risk-prone areas such as Maine, where he is spending this weekend at his parent’s coastal summer house in Kennebunkport
Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman, said that because the Lyme disease incident did not affect Mr Bush’s duties or his schedule, it was not disclosed to the public at the time. Mr Bush discovered the circular rash below his left knee soon after last year’s medical report had been made public. He was aware of Lyme disease, which is common on the east coast of the US. Mr Stanzel said that doctors had decided not to perform blood tests because the treatment worked on the one area in which the President had suffered a rash.