Every year, approximately 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease.1 Unfortunately, myths about this widespread disease may present a barrier to prompt diagnosis and treatment. We explore 6 myths about Lyme disease you may encounter with your patients.
Myth #1: No rash means no Lyme
Many people associate Lyme disease with the presence of a bullseye-shaped rash (erythema migrans [EM]). While it is true that EM will manifest in the majority of cases, its absence does not preclude Lyme disease. In fact, approximately 20% to 30% of persons infected with Lyme disease do not present with EM.2
Myth #2: If you don’t remember being bitten, you don’t have Lyme
If you don’t remember being bitten by a tick, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear. A tick’s saliva contains a numbing agent that can make detecting a bite difficult. Unlike mosquito bites, for example, tick bites tend not to cause immediate itching or skin irritation.3 As a result, ticks can latch onto their host for an extended period of time without being noticed.
Myth #3: If you’re infected, you’ll know right away
Not only might you not notice a bite or rash, any symptoms of Lyme disease you do experience at the outset may be indistinguishable from other illnesses. In the days after a tick bite, you might experience flu-like symptoms including fever, fatigue, chills, headache, and muscle aches.