COVID-19 is increasing the possibility of misdiagnosis among people infected with Lyme disease, says a group educating the public about the dangers of ticks.
Jill McAllister, founder of Tick Awareness Canada Association, said now, people who suddenly get flu-like symptoms are more likely to be tested for COVID-19, and when the test comes back negative, they would be told not to worry.
Lyme disease causes weakness, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, stiff neck, muscle aches and joint pain that may last for weeks.
McAllister said Lyme disease can be misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn’s disease and many other illnesses.
“Be persistent. A lot of clinicians are not educated in tick-borne illnesses and they very easily misdiagnose,” said McAllister, who lives in Three Hills.
“I don’t want to see anymore sick children or adults.”
She said people are more at risk than ever by spending more time outdoors after months of being stuck indoors after the pandemic struck.
They may let their guard down if they believe tick season is limited to the spring, said McAllister, but July is one of the worse months for being bitten by larval or nymphal ticks, the two smallest life stages.
Lyme-infected ticks have been found in many Alberta communities, including central Alberta, she said.
“We have 22 known tick species in Alberta. Lyme disease is just one of multiple illnesses ticks can transmit.
“They come out rain or shine. We’ve collected ticks every month of the year off of livestock, pets, roadkill, hunted game.”
Tick Awareness Canada Association had just kicked off its raffle when COVID-19 shut down the bulk of its sales efforts.
“We do tick talks with youth groups, community groups, workplaces. Anybody who has outdoor enthusiasts, or outdoor workers, and the general public,” McAllister said.
The draw will be held Aug. 2. First prize is a $1,500, 10-minute Safeway shopping spree. Tickets are $10 each.