Could race affect the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease?

African-American, man, student

A recent article published in Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases by Moon and colleagues  reviews individual and community risk factors and incidence rates for Lyme disease within 38 counties in Pennsylvania. [1]

Using data from Geisinger electronic medical records, researchers identified 9657 Lyme disease cases diagnosed between 2006 and 2014 in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

[bctt tweet=”Are African-Americans less likely to be diagnosed with Lyme disease?” username=”DrDanielCameron”]

African-American, man, student

Only 1.4% of Lyme disease patients in central and northeastern Pennsylvania are African-American, according to a medical records review.

Moon and colleagues found that more than 97% of the Lyme disease patients were white non-Hispanic. Only 0.9% were Hispanic and 1.4% were black non-Hispanic.

The authors suggest that “The low-density semi-rural and suburban communities close to wooded, brushy, or grassy landscapes favored by ticks are more likely to be white and affluent,” and therefore put this population at a greater risk.

However, different socioeconomic levels, involvement in outdoor leisure activities, access to health care, and awareness of Lyme disease may also play a role. “There is some evidence,” the authors write, “that African-Americans may be at higher risk than whites for delayed diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease,” writes Moon, citing a study by Fix. [2]


Related Articles:

Lyme disease diagnosis almost missed in patient with Babesia

Lyme disease in children rising in Pennsylvania: An inside look


  1. Moon KA, Pollak J, Hirsch AG, et al. Epidemiology of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania 2006-2014 using electronic health records. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018.
  2. Fix AD, Pena CA, Strickland GT. Racial differences in reported Lyme disease incidence. Am J Epidemiol. 2000;152(8):756-759.

8 Replies to "Could race affect the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease?"

  • BonnieHuntsinger
    06/16/2020 (11:51 pm)

    ‪I have met many with darker complexions who couldn’t see the rashes or ticks in their scalps, etc. ‬

  • MX Hayes
    02/26/2019 (7:35 pm)

    I’m african american suffering from Lyme Borreliosis and Candida for a few years. I’ve gone from physician to physician without treatment. I’m tired and weary. I see the disparity of treatment with regards to demographic info. My mother died from the same symptoms I’m experiencing. I just want help. I’ve spent my life savings on life sustaining treatments for my mother and I. In Alabama but willing to travel but require a physician who accepts Medicare/ Medicaid and Igenex results!

    • Eugene Wade
      11/13/2019 (10:14 pm)

      Hello sir.

      Did you ever get help or diagnosed?

    • Melissa N.
      06/12/2020 (12:31 am)

      MX Hayes,
      You should join the Facebook Lyme groups! I got so much information. The Lyme Support and Wellness is the most helpful, but I’m in about 5-6 groups. I learn something new everyday. I’m so sorry you are going thru this. It took 17 years of misdiagnosis to finally get a Lyme diagnosis for myself. You need a Lyme Literate Dr(LLMD). There is a directory online, if you Google that phrase! I wish you so much luck! 💕💕

  • Jennifer I.
    11/30/2018 (1:39 am)

    Interesting, however in my case, white female undiagnosed for 20+ years with access to endless doctors who had no clue and treated me horribly, so …

  • Joe Belcher
    11/29/2018 (5:59 pm)

    Could being a Southerner affect the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases?

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