Lyme disease is an infection a person develops after a bite from a tick carrying certain bacteria. Although COVID-19 does not trigger Lyme disease, there may be a link between the two conditions, and they share a few similar symptoms.
Lyme disease is the most common insect-borne infection in the United States. The CDC acknowledges that there are
COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease that
This article explains the links between COVID-19 and Lyme disease. It also discusses the symptoms of Lyme disease and the steps a person can take to help prevent Lyme disease from developing.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 does not cause Lyme disease, which is a bacterial infection a person
Some research also suggests there may be a link between Lyme disease and an increased risk of severe COVID-19.
However, the exact mechanisms behind this correlation are not clear and further research is necessary.
The most common symptom of Lyme disease is an erythema migrans (EM) rash. This occurs in
An EM rash is often the first presenting symptom. It appears at the site of the tick bite, often as an expanding, discolored skin lesion. Some people may refer to it as a “bullseye rash” because it can resemble the shape of a target.
Other symptoms of Lyme disease may also develop over time. Some people may not notice any symptoms to begin with.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease tend to appear
Later symptoms of Lyme disease that may appear days or months after the tick bite include:
- severe headaches and stiffness in the neck
- EM rashes that appear on other areas of the body
- facial palsy, which is paralysis or severe weakness of facial muscles
- arthritis, particularly in large joints such as the knees
- intermittent tendon, joint, muscle, and bone pain
- an irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations
- episodes of shortness of breath or dizziness
- inflammation of the spinal cord and brain
- nerve pain
- shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
A person may not experience the later symptoms of Lyme disease if they receive treatment before the condition develops.
Similarities with COVID-19
Lyme disease and COVID-19 share some similar symptoms,
- fever and chills
- muscle and joint aches
- shortness of breath
The best way a person can protect themselves against a Lyme disease infection is to
A person may encounter ticks throughout the year. However, they are
Avoiding contact with ticks
The CDC suggest the following tips for preventing tick bites:
- Learn where ticks live: Ticks are often present in grassy areas. They also often live in the woods or on animals. A person can try:
- avoiding high grass and leaf litter
- walking in the center of trails
- staying away from wooded and brushy areas
- Treat clothing and equipment: People may want to consider treating clothing and equipment they will bring into areas where ticks live with products containing 0.5% permethrin, an insecticide that may help protect against tick bites. Permethrin can remain effective through several washings, and people can even purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
- Use insect repellants: A person may also wish to protect their skin by using insect repellants. The CDC recommend using products registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
After coming indoors
It is also best to carry out the following steps after coming indoors:
- Check clothing for ticks: A person can examine their clothes after walking in areas where ticks are present and remove any they find. It is best to then tumble dry clothes on a high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks that may remain.
- Examine equipment and pets: Ticks can also enter the home on a person’s equipment and pets. A person can examine these and remove any ticks before entering their home.
- Shower as soon as possible: According to the CDC, showering within 2 hours of going indoors can reduce a person’s risk of developing Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
- Check the body for ticks: It is best to conduct a full-body check after returning from a place where ticks may be present. People can use a mirror to inspect the following body areas:
- in and around the ears
- in the hair
- under the arms
- inside the belly button
- behind the knees
- around the waist
- between the legs
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. If a tick carrying certain bacteria bites a person, it can pass the infection to them.
COVID-19 does not cause Lyme disease to develop. However, some Lyme disease symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19, including fever and chills, headache, and fatigue.
Lyme disease may also increase a person’s risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms. However, further research is necessary for scientists to understand the association between Lyme disease and severe COVID-19.
It is best for people to speak with a doctor if they think they may be experiencing Lyme disease symptoms, such as an EM rash. Experts also recommend people take precautions to prevent the likelihood of tick bites.