Do you have Lyme Disease or COVID-19?

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 5:50 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The threat of ticks is on that rise now that summer is in full swing and more people are spending time outdoors. But experts warn that Lyme disease and COVID-19 symptoms are similar.

If you mistake Lyme disease for COVID-19 you could unknowingly set yourself up for serious medical problems in the future.

"It was really hard to see him sick for so long," said Jessie Crow Mermel.

Mermel's son was 9 when a tick that attached to his arm gave him Lyme Disease.

"He just started to get stomach aches, got really tired and it was really hard to get a diagnosis," Mermel said.

Mermel wanted to know more about the disease.

"It took a lot of my own personal research and seeking out help from a variety of doctors but eventually we got an accurate test result," Mermel said.

Some of the major Lyme Disease symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue and sore throats all of which are symptoms of COVID-19.

"If there's a concern for COVID-19 we go ahead and send the nasal PCR test out and it's pretty sensitive. So if it's negative it can tell us this patient doesn't have COVID-19. If the patient is still symptomatic and we are concerned about other tests we can evaluate that situation," said Dr. Moamen Alzoubi, MercyHealth.

For those who plan to hit the trails, there are ways to reduce the risk of getting bit by a tick.

"Wear long pants and socks you can tuck the pants into. That way there is less space for ticks to crawl up your legs or sneak under a piece of clothing," said Andrea Wallace Noble, Severson Dells Nature Center naturalist.

Noble says ticks like areas of the body where there are folds. So it’s important to check carefully after leaving a wooded area.

"Take a look at your whole body to make sure you don't any ticks and look closely because they can be smaller than the size of an eraser head on a pencil, So if you do that you are already minimizing your risks and you can keep having fun outside," Noble said.

Noble says a common misconception is that ticks fall out of trees. But typically they will crawl onto you from the ground. So wearing protective shoes and pants is really important.

If you do find a tick biting your skin it’s best to use tweezers to pull it out by its head and then stick it in a plastic bag or between two pieces of tape and have it tested.

Copyright 2020 WIFR. All rights reserved.

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