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Can Tick-Borne Diseases Be Fatal? What You Should Know About Tick-Related Deaths

0 2 years ago

While awareness of the dangers of tick-borne diseases is spreading, there’s still a lot to be learned about which diseases ticks carry, their symptoms, whether they can be treated and how, and, of course, their potential long-term effects on one’s health. Along with that, many may wonder:

  • Can Lyme disease be fatal?
  • What about other tick-borne diseases?
  • How common are deaths from tick-borne illnesses?

This article will provide some background information to answer those questions.

Can Lyme disease be fatal?

Yes – though Lyme disease deaths are rare, they are possible. Reuters cites CDC research that found that between 1999 and 2003, there were 114 recorded deaths attributed to Lyme disease in the U.S. That includes one case in which long-term effects of Lyme on the patient’s central nervous system led to acute respiratory failure that caused their death.

It should be noted that most deaths related to Lyme disease are caused by complications from Lyme – especially untreated Lyme – rather than the disease itself. Some examples of such complications are described below.

Complications from Lyme disease that can be fatal

Lyme carditis

Lyme carditis is a rare but dangerous condition in which the bacteria that cause Lyme or TBRF enters the heart and causes inflammation. This can lead to irregular heartbeats or heart arrhythmia, as well as heart block that can be deadly. Just having Lyme disease or TBRF does not mean you will develop Lyme carditis, but there are several documented deaths linked to the condition.


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