Lyme Disease Is Often Diagnosed Later in Black Patients
Approximately 1 in 3 Black patients have progressed neurological symptoms of Lyme disease after a delayed diagnosis, according to the results of a recent study.1
To better understand the differences in Lyme disease diagnoses and symptom progression between Black and White individuals, the researchers examined approximately 6367 patients who had recently received a diagnosis of Lyme disease. All participants were part of a nationwide sample of Medicare beneficiaries from 2015 to 2016.
The results indicated that approximately 34% Black patients already had neurological complications that were associated with later stages of Lyme disease, such as meningitis, neuropathy, and cranial neuritis. In comparison, 9% of White patients had similar complications.
The use of diagnosis codes in the medical claims data instead of more-detailed patient charts is a limitation of this study data.
“Because differential recognition of the skin manifestations of Lyme disease in Black patients may be the reason for delayed diagnosis and subsequent neurological complications, efforts to better educate physicians and to boost representations of Black patients in medical education materials may be necessary to improve the diagnosis of the disease in this population,” the researchers said in a press release.2
1. Ly DP. Black-white differences in the clinical manifestations and timing of initial Lyme disease diagnoses. J Gen Intern Med. Published online September 30, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-021-07129-1
2. Black patients’ Lyme disease often diagnosed late, possibly due to missed signs. News release. The University of California, Los Angeles; September 30, 2021. Accessed October 6, 2021. https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/black-patients-diagnosed-with-lyme-disease-later