STARI Master's Disease


Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI), also known as Masters disease, occurs after the bite of an infected tick. The disease is thought to be caused by the bacterium Borrelia lonestari. It was once believed to be passed to humans by the bite of a lone-star tick, however, it has been detected in other species of ticks. It was also believe to be limited to the south-central United States, but that theory was also incorrect.

Early Masters disease symptoms are similar to symptoms of Lyme disease. Some people may develop a skin lesion (or rash) that looks like a Lyme disease erythema migrans (EM) rash (see photo below). Treatment with an antibiotic regimen similar to that used for Lyme disease helps to address the symptoms caused by Masters disease. Serologic testing for antibodies in patients is not helpful because Lyme disease tests in general miss so many people who are actually infected. Additionally, commonly marketed tests are not developed to pick up the Masters Disease strain, as are some other more specific Lyme tests from higher quality labs (IGeneX). It is highly likely that many cases of Masters disease have been mistaken for Lyme disease due to similarities in symptomology.

Lone Star Tick

STARI rash on the back of

adult male patient from Missouri.

Photo by Dr. Edwin Masters.

In Memory of Dr. Ed Masters 1945-2009

Dr. Edwin J. Masters worked tirelessly on this specific tick borne disease that was affecting many in the south central United States. He was a native of Southeast Missouri and practiced medicine there for over 35 years. He had a special interest in tick-borne illnesses and published or presented on Lyme Disease, Lyme-like illness (AKA STARI or Masters Disease), Human Monocytic Ehlichiosis (HME) Ehrlichia ewingii, Babesiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Dr. Edwin J. Masters 1945-2009