Seasonal tickborne infections can have symptoms similar to COVID-19, doctors say

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FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Doctors at UConn Health in Farmington are starting to treat seasonal tick bites and infections. The issue is that some tickborne infections have symptoms that are similar to coronavirus, so doctors now have to keep that in mind while diagnosing patients.

According to Dr. David Banach, Head of Infection Prevention at UConn Health, Lyme disease most commonly has a bullseye rash, but two other infections, carried by the same deer ticks are different.

He said patients with babesia and anaplasma can have a fever. In the past few months that is the first thing checked in patients as doctors work to diagnose and treat people with COVID-19.

“We’re still in the early phase of that overlap between COVID and tickborne disease and infection, but it just reminds us to think broadly about patients and not focus in too much on one particular diagnosis,” said Dr. Banach. “Anyone in the summer who presents with flu-like symptoms, we don’t really see the flu in the summertime here in Connecticut so think about those other tick infections, particularly if you’ve had any outdoor exposure, or in wooded areas.”

He said prevention is the key to avoiding tick bites in the first place. Those spending time in a wooded area should use tick repellents, permethrin on their clothing, performing tick checks after coming inside, washing clothing in hot water and showering.

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(This story was originally published on June 16, 2020)

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