Kentucky, Be Aware: Lyme Disease Is Frequently Misdiagnosed

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Summer and autumn are the times when we can shake off our stress and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, whether right here in Kentucky or wherever we visit friends and family in the United States. Unfortunately, a hidden danger exists out there that you would be foolish to ignore: Lyme disease.

What Is Lyme Disease?

The first case of the bacterial infection called Lyme disease was reported in 1975 in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Also known as borreliosis or Bannwarth’s syndrome, most cases of Lyme disease are found in these areas of the country:

  • Northeastern states from Virginia to Maine;
  • North-central states, primarily Wisconsin and Minnesota; and
  • West Coast, especially northern California.

Deer ticks, or blacklegged ticks, are a major carrier of Lyme disease. These ticks are in the mature stage of their lifecycle during the summer. They get the bacteria from mice or deer that they bite, and they pass it on to subsequent hosts, such as dogs, cats, and humans.

Deer ticks go through three feeding cycles during their two-year lifespan. In the second stage of life, they can be as small as a poppy seed. Many people who get Lyme disease never even saw a tick on their body or felt a bite.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information describes three stages of Lyme disease, each with its own set of symptoms.

Stage 1: Early Localized Lyme Disease

In stage 1, the disease has not yet spread throughout the body. The flulike symptoms, which may not show up until days or weeks after infection, may include the following:

  • Itching all over the body;
  • Fever;
  • Chills;
  • Headache;
  • Dizziness or fainting;
  • Muscle pain; 
  • Stiff neck; and
  • A large “bull’s-eye” rash around the bite, which may increase in size. This spot is usually warm to the touch, with a red ring and a clear center.
  • If the disease is not caught and treated early, it can spread to the joints, heart, and brain.

Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme Disease

The symptoms in stage 2 may appear weeks to months after infection and may include the following:

  • Paralysis or weakness in the facial muscles;
  • Muscle pain;
  • Pain or swelling in the knees and other large joints; and
  • Heart disorders, such as palpitations.

Stage 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease

Stage 3 Lyme disease symptoms can occur months or years after infection and may include the following:

  • Muscle and joint pain;
  • Abnormal muscle movement;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Numbness and tingling; and 
  • Speech disorders.

Why Is Lyme Disease Often Misdiagnosed?

According to the website, although people with Lyme disease usually have musculoskeletal pain and neurological symptoms, the disease affects each person differently. The symptoms may be indicative of other chronic health conditions, including these: 

  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome;
  • Arthritis;
  • Autoimmune conditions, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis;
  • Guillian-Barré syndrome;
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS);
  • Ménière’s syndrome;
  • Early Alzheimer’s disease;
  • Early Parkinson’s disease; or
  • Psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder or depression.

If you or someone you love has Lyme disease that was misdiagnosed in Kentucky or was not discovered despite a medical examination, contact the Louisville medical malpractice attorneys at Gray and White Law. Call us at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456. We’ll set you up with a FREE, no-obligation consultation to discuss your situation.