We do not know whether having Lyme disease increases the risk of more serious Covid-19. Several chronic diseases and chronic neurological conditions are thought to put people more at risk but there is no information on Lyme disease, or other relatively rare conditions.
If you have Lyme disease or think you may still have Lyme disease, or the effects of Lyme disease, then it would be sensible to take every precaution you can against infection – maintaining very careful social distancing and being scrupulous in washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water; and to ask anyone you live with to do the same.
A 2018 scientific paper (1) reported on the long-term health of those who had had Lyme neuroborreliosis (LNB) in Denmark, compared with the general population. The conclusion was:
“A verified diagnosis of Lyme neuroborreliosis had no substantial effect on long term survival, health, or educational/social functioning. Nevertheless, the diagnosis decreased labour market involvement marginally and was associated with increased risk of haematological and non-melanoma skin cancers.”
In addition, the authors found:
“Use of outpatient services remained slightly increased among Lyme neuroborreliosis patients for several years after diagnosis, particularly for services in haematology and neurology clinics.â€ť So it seems that some of those who have had LNB do suffer from continued ill health.”
We suggest that you read the Advice on social distancing issued by Public Health England and take what precautions you can, and persuade family members to do likewise.
We do hope that you, and family, manage to avoid the worst consequences of this virus on your health, jobs, businesses and relationships.
- Obel N, Dessau RB, Krogfelt KA, Bodilsen J, Andersen NS, MĂ¸ller JK, et al. Long term survival, health, social functioning, and education in patients with European Lyme neuroborreliosis: nationwide population based cohort study. Br Med J. 2018;361:1â€“9.Â Full text available
Covid-19 v Lyme disease
Youâ€™ve been working from home and if you are lucky enough to have a garden, or neighbouring park or countryside, perhaps spending a lunch break sitting on the grass. You donâ€™t feel at all well. You think of Covid-19, and check the NHS website. Not conclusive. What else might it be?
Self isolate as recommended, but if it doesnâ€™t go away, review your symptoms and also consider whether a tiny tick from the garden could have attached to you and given you Lyme disease. Found a tick? Remove it correctly as soon as you can to minimise disease passing to you.
Quick check of main early symptoms where â€śYesâ€ť means fairly common but not in everyone:
Check yourself for roughly circular red rash – especially on parts of your body you canâ€™t easily see. Take a photo for your GP if you see one.
Lyme disease is a tiny risk compared with Covid-19 – only on average about 10% of UK ticks carry it, and it gives rise to perhaps 10,000 cases per year in the UK, though precise numbers are not known. Unlike Covid-19, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection and when recognised early it is easily treated with antibiotics.
Awareness of ticks is the key and will help you avoid this illness and not add to the NHS burden.
If your GP needs some pointers, suggest the RCGP Toolkit.