Lyme disease, COVID-19 symptoms are so similar that outdoor lovers should beware of mistaking the two

Lyme disease, COVID-19 symptoms are so similar that outdoor lovers should beware of mistaking the two

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The coronavirus has changed lives, impacting where people go and what they do on a daily basis. Now, the virus has a link to another disease and the danger it can bring: Lyme disease.

The CDC reports Lyme disease as being the most common illness that is vector-borne, meaning it’s transmitted by fleas, ticks, or mosquitos. Lyme disease, in particular, is transmitted to humans by ticks. Some of its symptoms are very similar to some COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches and swollen lymph nodes. It also weakens the immune system, making a sufferer highly vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus.

If mistaken for COVID-19 completely, Lyme disease patients could delay necessary medical treatment that can prevent or ease its effects, and leaving it unchecked and untested could prove to be devastating.

“With the pandemic, people are going out and camping and social distancing to the extreme,” Woodie Hippler, owner of Any Lab Test Now, explained to WAVE 3 News. “There are so many people camping that normally wouldn’t camp.”

A new survey by Civic Science found more than 40% of Americans who normally do not find themselves hiking, biking, or enjoying nature are eager to do so now due to cabin fever from COVID-19 lockdowns.

“That’s why it’s become a bigger issue this year than it’s ever been,” Hippler explained.

Hippler stresses for those who find relief from the pandemic outside but find themselves with symptoms of the flu a test for Lyme disease could be important. Any Lab Test Now in Indiana and Kentucky partners with many major, high-quality laboratories throughout the U.S. to provide 8000 affordable and comprehensive lab testing services.

Any Lab Test Now in WAVE Country reported they have already seen a 25% rise in positive tests recently. Hippler said they even had three positive Lyme tests in one day.

Still, she doesn’t say people shouldn’t enjoy some time in the fresh air.

“Go out in the wilderness,” Hippler says with a smile. “Go out and enjoy the great outdoors but with caution.”

To stay safe against Lyme disease:

  • Use a tick repellent that has 20 percent DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus
  • Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into socks and a hat
  • Check yourself, your gear, and your pets for ticks before heading inside
  • Wash your clothes in hot water and dry your clothes on high heat after your day outside
  • Shower within 2 hours of coming indoors

Ticks are most likely in wooded areas, low hanging trees, under leaves, plants and ground cover and around stone walls or woodpiles.

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