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Misdiagnosis of Lyme Disease

British Columbia Specific Information

Ticks are tiny bugs which feed on blood. For information on ticks, removing ticks, and how to avoid being bitten, see HealthLinkBC File #01 Tick Bites and Disease. You may also be interested in the HealthLinkBC File #96 Insect Repellent and DEET.

While most tick bites do not result in diseases, some can. Some of the diseases passed on by ticks include relapsing fever, tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Q Fever and anaplasmosis. The most well-known is Lyme disease. For more information on Lyme Disease, visit BC Centre for Disease Control - Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi infection).

Topic Overview

Misdiagnosis of Lyme disease is common.

The bacteria that cause the illness are hard to detect with current lab tests.

  • People often test positive for Lyme disease when in fact they have a different bacterial illness.
  • People may test positive because they were infected with the Lyme disease bacteria at some point during their lives, but the infection may not be active and may not cause any illness.
  • People may test negative when they actually have been infected.

Symptoms of Lyme disease sometimes closely resemble those of other illnesses.

Credits

Current as of:
September 23, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
W. David Colby IV MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease