COVID-19 and Lyme Disease

Coronavirus and Lyme disease can have similar symptoms, such as fever, tiredness and headache, but Cooper experts have put together a guide to help you differentiate the two.

Lyme disease is an infection spread by a tick bite. It can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms often mimic those of other conditions. However, the primary initial symptom for Lyme disease in 80% of cases is a telltale “bulls-eye” rash at the site of the bite. This bulls-eye rash is a classic and specific indicator of Lyme disease, not COVID-19.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new virus that causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing.

You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, wearing a face mask, and practicing physical distancing by avoiding close contact with people who do not live in your household.

Preventive measures such as using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing, and frequently checking yourself/children/pets for ticks will greatly lower your chance of getting Lyme disease.

Coronavirus vs. Lyme Disease

Fever X X
Headache X X
Chills and Aches X X
Sore Throat X  
Digestive Discomfort X  
Cough Dry (no mucus)  
Chest Pain X  
Nasal Congestion X  
Shortness of Breath X  
Bluish Lips or Face X  
Loss of Smell and Taste X  
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) X  
Tiredness X X
Rash   X
Swollen Lymph Nodes   X
Arthritis   X (Chronic Lyme Disease)
Bell’s Palsy (Facial Drooping)   X (Chronic Lyme Disease)
Heart Palpitations     X (Chronic Lyme Disease)

Frequently Asked Questions

If I already have Lyme disease, what added risks does COVID-19 pose for me?

COVID-19 should pose no additional risks for you if your Lyme disease was detected early, you have been treated with antibiotics, and your symptoms have resolved. You may, however, be at a greater risk of complications from COVID-19 if your immune system is decreased from the more severe forms of Lyme disease, such as post-Lyme disease syndrome or chronic Lyme disease.

Will the COVID-19 pandemic increase the population of ticks?

Ticks do not travel very far on their own but can be transported by deer and other animals from the grassy and woody areas where they are most prevalent. As wildlife has ventured more into communities during the pandemic and stay-at-home directives, it is possible there will be an increase seen in the tick population in neighborhoods and communities.

Can Lyme disease and COVID-19 be treated similarly?

Lyme disease can be treated most effectively with antibiotics when the disease is caught early. There are no specific treatments currently available for COVID-19, although those with milder cases of COVID-19 may experience some symptom relief through over-the-counter medications similar to those used for colds and the flu.

Contact Us

If you have flu-like symptoms and think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, review our instructions and information on our testing sites.

If you believe you have Lyme disease, call 800.826.6737 to make an appointment with a Cooper infectious disease expert to discuss your options.