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President treated for Lyme disease last August

WASHINGTON -- President Bush was treated for Lyme disease last August, the White House announced yesterday after failing to disclose the problem for nearly a year.

The treatment was revealed only when the White House made public all the results of Bush's annual physical exam. The disease showed up in the "past medical history" section and in the summary along with other skin conditions.

Bush was treated for what his doctors described as "early, localized Lyme disease" last August after developing the characteristic bull's-eye rash. The doctors said he has had no recurrence.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the disease was not disclosed earlier because it happened after he had his last physical, on Aug. 1, 2006. "It was a rash," he said. "It's not uncommon for the president to have tick bites when he's out biking."

Doctors pronounced the 61-year-old president healthy overall.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection that, if left untreated, can cause arthritis and other problems. Symptoms include lethargy, joint pain, fever, and loss of appetite. A bacterial disease, it can be eradicated with antibiotic treatment in early stages but can recur in some patients.

The president's main form of exercise and recreational activity is biking.

His doctors advised him to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and use bug spray when in risk-prone areas, such as Maine, where the president is spending a long weekend starting today at his parents' summer home on the coast.

Last year's presidential physical was conducted as usual on a visit at the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland. This year's took place in a series of exams at the White House starting July 17 and ending Tuesday night.