Most tickborne infections occur during the summer, but Black people are also more likely to be diagnosed outside of the typical Lyme disease season, further suggesting a delay in early diagnosis, study author Dr. Dan Ly says.
About 34% of Black patients showed neurologic signs of Lyme disease when they were first diagnosed, compared to only 9% of white patients, the study found.
The tell-tale sign of Lyme disease is its bulls-eye rash, but that might be harder to spot in Black people, who are often diagnosed with more advanced disease than white people are, new research suggests.
The first sign of Lyme disease looks different on darker skin, and these differences are not usually reflected in images found in medical textbooks, Ly explains.
“This may lead to physicians not recognizing such rashes as well in Black patients and, as a result, Black patients are more likely to present with later complications of Lyme disease such as neurologic complications,” Ly adds.
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What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
The bulls-eye rash typically surfaces soon after a bite from an infected deer tick, along with fever, headache, chills and muscle pain.
However, not everyone gets a rash with Lyme disease, according to Dr. Sunjya Schweig, the CEO and co-director of the California Center for Functional Medicine in Kensington.
“Don’t rely on a rash to determine if you have a tick-borne disease,” Schweig adds. “Know the symptoms of the first stage of Lyme disease, which include