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Learn about tick-borne illness, how it can become chronic, the challenges with traditional treatment options, and how patients can begin healing.

Understanding Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)

About STARI

Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI), also known as Masters disease, is an emerging infectious disease that mimics Lyme Disease but is distinct in its etiology and symptoms. It is primarily transmitted by the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum), the most common human-biting tick in regions like Florida and other southeastern and south-central United States.

The hallmark sign of STARI is a rash known as erythema migrans (EM), resembling a “bull’s eye,” which typically appears about seven days after a tick bite. This rash expands outward from the site of the bite with a central area of clear skin. While symptoms can include fatigue, fever, headaches, and muscle/joint pain, chronic symptoms like arthritis and neurological complications, commonly seen in Lyme Disease, are less likely to occur in STARI cases.

Common Symptoms of STARI:

  • “Bull’s-eye” rash (erythema migrans)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever (occasional)
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain

While Borrelia lonestari has been proposed as a potential causative agent of STARI, controversies exist regarding its role due to inconsistent detection in all cases. Early studies using PCR testing suggested the presence of B. lonestari, a spirochete related to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium responsible for Lyme Disease. However, further research is needed to confirm its definitive role in STARI.