Coronavirus or Lyme Disease?

Coronavirus is likely to be at the forefront of our minds for some time yet. Any new flu-like symptoms may have us considering whether we have been infected with the virus, but Lyme disease can also cause flu-like symptoms. 

Lyme disease can be contracted by the bite of an infected tick and symptoms of acute Lyme disease may overlap with coronavirus symptoms. Ticks are active at this time of year and infected ticks have been found in every county in the UK, in parks and urban gardens

If you are suffering with flu-like symptoms check the coronavirus NHS Symptoms checker and follow advice from the NHS website to self-isolate.

If you’re symptoms don’t quite match up to coronavirus or you are still feeling unwell following NHS advice, it may be worth considering whether you have unknowingly been bitten by an infected tick and contracted Lyme disease. Tick bites are usually painless and may go unnoticed. Symptoms of Lyme disease can occur weeks or months after a tick bite and require treatment with antibiotics.

The table below shows commonly reported symptoms of COVID 19 and Lyme disease. ‘Yes’ means fairly common but not in everyone.

If you suspect you may have Lyme disease:

  • Contact your GP (rather than calling 111 services) and inform them you are concerned about the possibility of Lyme disease.
  • Check for rashes – an erythema migrans (EM) is the rash associated with Lyme disease. The rash does not occur in every case of Lyme disease but if a patient does present with an EM rash then no blood test is required and treatment should be prescribed immediately. 
  • If you find a rash, take a photo of it to show your GP.
  • If you find a tick attached to your skin, remove it carefully using one of the correct techniques.
  • Lyme disease is a bacterial infection and early treatment with antibiotics is recommended to avoid long term symptoms. You can refer your GP to the Royal College of General Practitioners Lyme Disease Toolkit for current advice on dosages and treatment guidelines.

Please take a look at our patient information guides for more information on dealing with Lyme disease.