According to a story from the Madison Area Lyme Support Group, one of the most difficult challenges about Lyme disease is getting a confirmed diagnosis. Testing for Lyme disease is unreliable and its symptoms can easily be confused for other illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis. In addition, one of the key identifying features of Lyme disease, a bullseye rash, is not always present. In this story we will also look at three other diseases that are often overlooked that can easily be confused for Lyme disease.
About Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the genus Borrelia. This bacteria is commonly spread to humans through the bite of a tick. In the US, the species of tick associated with Lyme disease is called the deer tick or the black legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). A tick must be attached to a person for at least 36 hours to transmit the bacteria. Symptoms of this disease include a distinctive bullseye rash surrounding the bite, fatigue, malaise, headache, and fever. Delays in treatment can lead to more serious symptoms, such as facial paralysis, mood changes, memory loss, sleeping difficulties, meningitis, arthritis, and others. In most cases, prompt treatment can effectively cure the infection. Delayed treatment increases the chance of serious complications and long term, lingering symptoms. The number of cases of the disease appears to be growing annually. To learn more about Lyme disease, click here.
Borrelia miyamotoi Disease
This is an infectious disease that is very closely related to Lyme disease that can also be spread by the bite of a deer tick. The disease is less common than Lyme but it can potentially occur in all of the places where Lyme disease is present. The symptoms are very similar but is is very rare for a bullseye rash to appear. A typical Lyme disease test will not detect B. miyamotoi disease.
While the flu may seem all too common to get confused with Lyme disease, the fact remains that the symptoms of the illnesses can be quite similar at times. When the rash is not present, the flu and Lyme disease can look a lot alike. If you have any suspicion that you have Lyme, even if there is no rash, getting tested is certainly not a bad idea.
This is another bacterial infection that also shares symptoms with Lyme, such as inflammation, swelling, warmth, and redness or pain in the affected area of the body. There are numerous documented cases of people being diagnosed with cellulitis when they really had Lyme disease.
One great way to make the diagnostic process simpler is to be vigilant about tick bites. Both the flu and cellulitis are not associated with bites from ticks. When you move through areas with thick, heavy undergrowth, low hanging branches, and tall grass, be sure to diligently check yourself for these parasites.