With consistently warmer weather on the way, and already here on some days, and people out and about enjoying that weather, one particular pest has the potential to cause havoc: ticks.
Health professionals said this week that symptoms of some tick-borne diseases can mimic those of Covid-19, and an already stressed health care system may not be able to handle an influx of new patients who have been bitten by ticks and get sick.
“It confuses the picture of trying to assess and see if someone is positive for Lyme disease,” said Rebecca Young, a nurse who is the patient navigator for the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Regional Tick-Borne Disease Research Center. “That’s what a lot of the conversations are about. Because we had a warm winter, I’m sure it will be a high season for ticks, especially since there are so many more people out here for this time of year.”
Fever, chills, weakness, headaches and body aches, and even respiratory symptoms can occur with the bite of an infected tick. (Not all ticks carry an infection.) Illnesses like Lyme disease, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, Powassan, and others — though not all are present in this region — have symptoms that can overlap with those of Covid-19.
The doctor interviewed for the piece states that due to current restrictions, treatment for tick-borne illness may be hard to get. He also states that those who suspect TBI may end up in the E.R. because of the similar symptoms, and get exposed to COVID-19 while there.