Diagnosis

It is important for Vermonters who are affected by Lyme disease to be aware of the controversy around diagnosis and treatment, so they can make informed choices about their health care. Medical professionals in Vermont approach the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease in different ways. Some professionals and institutions believe a CDC positive blood test, or an EM rash, must be present to diagnose Lyme disease. Some see Lyme as a simple infection easily cured by a short course of antibiotics. Others see it as a complex disease that requires comprehensive treatment.

Lyme disease may present in a traditional way, with joint pain, fevers, and a bulls-eye rash. Lyme disease has also presented as emotional difficulties, memory loss, or extreme tiredness – without the presence of joint pain, or a bulls-eye rash. In children, Lyme can mimic ADHD or learning disabilities.

Studies have shown that people with Lyme disease may be misdiagnosed as other diseases including mood and anxiety disorders, heart problems, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Arthritis, and more. Some Lyme patients have been referred for psychiatric help. (One clue that the cause of symptoms may be Lyme disease is that Lyme symptoms will often appear in a cyclical fashion. Every three to four weeks, symptoms may get worse – and then return to their original pattern).

Not all Vermont physicians have accurate information about diagnosing and treating Lyme disease. It is okay to ask your medical practitioner about their training, and how they choose to diagnose and treat Lyme and tick-borne diseases. Vermont doctors may attend physician trainings that offer additional perspectives and information to consider along with CDC/IDSA recommendations.

It is important to diagnose co-infections. Vermonters who remain ill after treatment for Lyme disease may have co-infections such as Babesia or Bartonella that require different treatment.

What You Should Know

Blood tests for Lyme disease can be inaccurate

Blood tests for Lyme disease and co-infections may result in false negatives and false positives, and tests are not always available for some of the co-infections that may appear along with Lyme.

Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis

According to the CDC, a diagnosis of Lyme disease should be based on symptoms. If you have symptoms of Lyme disease you may be infected, even if your blood test is negative.

Not Everyone Gets a “Bull’s-Eye” Rash

According to the CDC, 20%-30% of people with Lyme disease never get a bull’s-eye rash.