Medical Matters > Lyme Disease

ME Essential Winter 2017


I know that ME/CFS and Lyme disease have a lot of symptoms in common and that some people with Lyme are being misdiagnosed as having ME/CFS. But what are the main symptoms of Lyme disease?


Lyme disease is caused by an infection called Borrelia burgdorferi that is spread by tick bites. The symptoms often occur in three stages – early localised disease, early disseminated disease and late disease – although these stages are not clear-cut and may overlap. Acute symptoms can affect the skin, joints, heart and nervous system and include fever, headache, fatigue, arthralgia/joint pain, and myalgia/muscle pain. There is often a characteristic skin rash at the site of the bite, known as erythema migrans, although its appearance can vary.

More information

  • The ME Association has detailed information available to download from the website shop:
    • Lyme Disease
      Lyme disease is a serious infection that is spread to humans by tick bites and chronic Lyme disease, while controversial, also displays similar symptoms to ME/CFS.
  • The ME/CFS/PVFS Clinical & Research Guide (The ‘Purple Book') has more information on the various blood tests – NHS and private – that are used for diagnosing Lyme Disease. You can order a hard copy of this authoritative booklet from the website shop.



Medical Matters is for information purposes only. The answers provided by Dr Shepherd and the ME Association’s other expert advisers should not be construed as medical advice. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your GP as soon as possible. It is important to obtain advice from a GP who is in charge of your clinical care, who knows you well, and who can consider other likely causes for symptoms. Seek personalised medical advice whenever a new symptom arises, or an existing symptom worsens. Don't assume that new or worsened symptoms are a result of having ME/CFS.

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