Getting the facts about Lyme is not always easy. There are many misconceptions about Lyme disease. Here are some of the most common “myths” about Lyme disease.
MYTH: Everyone with Lyme disease gets a telltale bullseye rash.
Actually, many never develop a skin rash and those that do may not get a bullseye rash. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that only 70% develop a skin rash (erythema migrans), but this can vary by region. For example, a 2010 study showed that in the state of Maine only 43% of Lyme patients exhibited this particular type of rash. There are a range of symptoms and it is critical that you are alert to all of them.
MYTH: There is no risk in California.
In truth, Lyme disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii, and a recent study showed that ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria which causes Lyme disease, are widespread in the San Francisco Bay Area.
MYTH: Antibiotics cure everyone.
Statistics show that as many as 20% of patients continue to exhibit symptoms even after antibiotic treatment. While there is controversy about the cause of this symptom persistence (e.g., residual bacteria or auto-immune response), for these patients, the suffering continues. As many as a million Americans are estimated to be suffering with this condition, referred to as post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLD).
MYTH: If the test is negative, you don’t have Lyme.
Not so fast … The current “gold standard” diagnostic for Lyme disease is a two-tiered blood test requiring a positive ELISA result. The ELISA measures infection-fighting or memory antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi, and it misses up to 60% of acute cases of Lyme when antibodies may not be high enough to detect.
Have you heard other “Lyme myths”? Do you have questions about Lyme? We want to hear from you. Contact us and help set the record straight.