Lyme disease misdiagnosed as shingles in a 62-year-old man

A recent article, published in the journal Clinical Case Reports, describes the case of a 62-year-old man, from Norway, who was initially diagnosed with shingles, a viral infection which produces a painful skin rash with blisters in a localized area on the body. [1] Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is common in older individuals who have had chickenpox.


by Daniel J. Cameron, MD, MPH

According to Hansen and colleagues, the man was admitted to the emergency department complaining of epigastric pain that had been ongoing for 4 to 5 weeks. “He described a constant pain with episodic worsening,” writes Hansen. The pain began with a rash in the man’s right upper quadrant area.

Physicians considered several diagnoses. The man had a history of migraines, anxiety, colon polyps and had been treated for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Small gallbladder stones were present but were not acute.

The man was diagnosed with shingles and prescribed acyclovir and pregabalin. Despite treatment, he remained ill. His pain increased and “he developed additional symptoms including nausea, lethargy, decreased appetite, constipation, decreased size and force of the urinary stream, and a 5–7 kg weight loss,” writes Hansen.

It wasn't shingles, it was Lyme disease. Click To Tweet

Imaging and lab tests were negative and the man was discharged. However, one week later, he was re-admitted to the hospital because “his general practitioner did not find it reasonable that his anxiety could explain his current symptoms,” says Hansen.

The man lived in an area endemic for Lyme disease. Although he did not recall a recent tick bite, he had been bitten previously, so serologic tests for Lyme disease were performed. Because his titers of B. burgdorferi IgG were so high and he had a history of tick bites and a rash, a lumbar puncture was ordered. Results were positive.

The 62-year-old man was diagnosed with Lyme neuroborreliosis. His symptoms, except for fatigue, resolved after a 3-week course of IV ceftriaxone. “His weight is now normalized and he has no problems with constipation,” explains Hansen. “The abdominal pain is almost gone. His main problem is fatigue but this is gradually improving.”

The authors point out that atypical clinical presentations of Lyme neuroborreliosis can occur, including gastrointestinal manifestations because of autonomous dysfunction, as was seen in this case.


Related Articles:

What happens to the brain during acute Lyme neuroborreliosis?

At least 50% of patients with Lyme neuroborreliosis remain ill years after treatment

When it looks like a brain tumor, but it is Lyme disease


  1. Hansen BA, Finjord T, Bruserud O. Autonomous dysfunction in Lyme neuroborreliosis. A case report. Clin Case Rep. 2018;6(5):901-903.


2 Replies to "Lyme disease misdiagnosed as shingles in a 62-year-old man"

  • Cathrine Mihm
    05/25/2018 (10:41 pm)

    Yes me too but did not resolve with ceftriaxone IV….using pure stevia leaf extract and homeopathic nosode tincture. ..getting well

    • Joyce Cacchione
      11/20/2018 (6:07 pm)

      Hi Cathrine.
      Glad to see you had success with a more holistic treatment plan. Would you be willing to share a little more info about your lyme disease story. I’ve been sick for many years and rely solely on natural treatments. I am currently pulsing two sets of remedies every two weeks, both sets containing one remedy that attacks the parasites and a second remedy that breaks through the biofilm. I do whatever I can to detox including sweating, epsom salt baths and glutathione. I’m thinking of mixing things up a bit to rid my body of this horrific disease once and for all. Thanks for any info you care to share.

Got something to say?

Some html is OK