So why did it take so long for Lavigne to get answers? And could her experience happen to others, as well?
Fortunately, most cases of Lyme disease are caught and treated much earlier, says Anne R. Bass, MD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, and this degree of misdiagnosis isn’t very common. But pinpointing this type of infection is not an exact science, and symptoms are not always crystal clear.
“Many people will develop a bulls-eye rash, which makes it fairly easy to diagnose,” she says. But this telltale symptoms is sometimes faint or on hidden parts of the body, and some people don’t get one at all.
“Other early symptoms, like fever or aches and pains, could be attributed to a virus or flu,” says Bass. “So if you don’t see a rash, you might not even go to the doctor—or it’s possible your doctor might not recognize it.” (Some Lyme disease cases go away on their own, she adds, so it’s possible to have had it and never known.)