• Dr. Tania Dempsey

Top 5 Myths About Lyme Disease You May Not Know

When most think about Lyme disease, they give out outdoor tips to protect your body from a tick jumping on you. But did you realize that there are more myths than truths floating around about Lyme disease? Lyme Disease Expert Dr. Tania Demspey recently shared the top 5 myths and truths you need to know about Lyme disease to protect yourself and your family this spring on Fox 61 News.


1) Myth: Lyme disease can only be transmitted if the tick is attached to a person or animal for at least 36-48 hours.

Truth: New research shows that the bacteria that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia Burgdorferi) can be found in the blood stream in under 24 hours. People who are told that they are fine since they took of the tick early enough, are being given false hope. The reality is the ticks can transmit many other infections as well, and some of them can be transmitted in less time, such as the Powassan virus which is transmitted within 15 minutes.

2) Myth: Lyme disease can be ruled out with a simple blood test.

Truth: The current testing system, which is two tiered, relies on a screening ELISA test that measures antibodies to the Lyme bacteria first and if positive an additional test, the western blot, is done to confirm it. There is about a 50% false negative rate on this ELISA test, so many patients who are negative could still have the disease. In addition, there are many other infections that mimic Lyme disease and can also be transmitted by ticks and other insects. If those other infections are not tested for, which they often aren’t due to the assumption that if the Lyme test is negative than nothing else needs to be done, then patients are given incomplete information about their condition.

3) Myth: If you don’t get a bull’s eye rash, you can’t have Lyme disease.

Truth: Only about 1/3 of people with Lyme disease get a bull’s eye rash.

4) Myth: Lyme can be cured with 28 days of antibiotics.

Truth: Research done at several universities have confirmed that the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme can persist in the body even after antibiotic therapy. These persistent bacteria often acquire resistance to many of the antibiotics used for treating Lyme disease and patients can develop chronic Lyme disease.

5) Myth: Lyme disease is only found in the northeast part of the United States.

Truth: Lyme has now been found in all 50 states and globally.