Experts Use Clues Offered by Lyme Disease to Better Understand Long COVID

Business Insurance published an article on November 2, 2022, notingLyme disease and COVID-19 parallels between long-term issues caused by Lyme disease and COVID-19 infections. Medical experts believe much can be learned from a disease that results from the bite of an infected tick.

Experts interviewed for the piece include Jennifer Laver, partner in the Mount Laurel, NJ, office of comp defense firm Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby LLP who said that Long COVID is “similar to a Lyme disease type of situation, where you’re seeing not just one condition,” but possibly neurological, pulmonary, and cardiac impacts. “There are multiple layers, so it’s a lot more complicated than normal” workers comp claims, she continued.

Mark Walls, a Chicago-based VP of client engagement at Safety National Casualty Corp. said, that, despite the similarities, Lyme disease in comp “is very rare and only a few states allow for it. It’s not something we see.”

In April 2022, New York lawmakers tried to make Lyme a compensable illness. The bill died in committee. Other states including West Virginia had the same results.

Since 2002, California has had something in place for specific first responders, including state Conservation Corps members and those who work in heavily tick-infested areas. Data and case management outcomes are hard to locate.

Lorraine Johnson, CEO of and principal investigator for MyLymeData said, “It’s the same problem for all of these long-tail diseases. The medical system does a pretty good job of handling acute illness — something that’s easy to diagnose, easy to treat, and then they send you on your way — but they do not do a good job with chronic diseases, or with a long-tail illness that persists after an infection. And that’s the situation here.” She added that the scarcity of medical experience results in a lack of consideration when it comes to workers comp and disability insurance coverage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that cases are underreported by a factor of 10, and a study published earlier this year by revealed that 86% of the reason a Lyme disease sufferer’s treatment is delayed is due to “inadequate physician education.”

Whether a focus on long COVID could potentially lead to further attention on Lyme disease remains to be seen, the experts say.

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Read more about Lyme disease insurance claims.

Read more about COVID-19 and Lyme disease.