(NBC News) – Health experts are bracing for a possible increase in cases of Lyme disease, due in part to more Americans enjoying the outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic.
They also worry that some diagnoses may be missed because some symptoms are similar to COVID-19.
“It can be low-grade fever, we can see malaise, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches in both diseases,” says Dr. Shannon Delaney of Columbia University’s Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center.
Dr. Delaney says both illnesses should be on doctors radar this tick season.
Key differences are respiratory symptoms. Those are associated with coronavirus, while a bullseye rash is associated with Lyme disease, although not all patients will develop one.
A delayed diagnosis can lead to more serious complications.
“With Lyme disease, it’s crucially important to have early treatment,” Dr. Delaney says.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates 300,000 Americans contract Lyme disease annually, and advises people to take precautions by using an approved insect repellent, wearing light colored clothing and checking for ticks after outdoor activities.
If you do discover a tick bite, remove the tick with clean tweezers and monitor yourself for symptoms. They can develop anywhere from a few days to a month after.
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