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Robust Tick Season Collides With COVID and Flu

With Similar Symptoms, Community Health Says Don’t Wait to Get Checked for Lyme Disease

RUTLAND – “My colleagues who work  in the emergency department have been doing COVID and Lyme disease testing side by side,” said Dr. Lisa Graves-Austin. “We are seeing more positive for Lyme disease than COVID.”

Lyme disease is quite prevalent in Vermont this year, said Graves-Austin, an internal medicine specialist at Community Health Rutland. She recommends that the number one thing to do, if there is ever any question, is contact your health care provider. “Often time with ticks you will have symptoms without any tick being seen and the rash can appear days before the fever.”

Lyme disease symptoms can present in many different ways and some of the symptoms are similar to COVID-19 and flu symptoms. For Lyme disease there can be joint pain, rash, fever, fatigue and sometimes lymph node enlargement. Fever and fatigue are also symptoms of flu and COVID-19.

The Test for Lyme Disease is a Simple Blood Test

“If you have the classic rash, a target shape rash on the body, we’ll just go ahead and treat you with an antibiotic and not necessarily wait for the test results. Lyme disease testing usually takes about 24-48 hours for the results to come back,” Graves-Austin said.

Testing for the flu has become very accessible and at Community Health the results come back in minutes. Currently, it takes a minimum of three to four days for COVID-19 test results to come back. So, when any of these symptoms occur, it’s best to check with your primary care provider.

Get a Flu Shot to Help Prevent Getting the Flu

Still, one of the best ways to prevent getting the flu to begin with is to get a flu shot. Otherwise, it’s going to be very difficult to differentiate between these illnesses because they can present very similarly, she said. Community Health recommends that everybody get a flu vaccine as soon as it’s available which typically is in late September or early October.

“Everyone needs to go out and get the flu shot when the vaccine is available so we can get as many people vaccinated as possible, “ Graves-Austin said.

“And,” she said, “We need to lobby our state and federal lawmakers to be sure we get access to the COVID vaccine as soon as possible.”

Dr. Lisa Graves-Austin joined Community Health in 2019. Previously in private practice in Texas, Dr. Graves-Austin moved to Vermont and joined Community Health’s Rutland practice as a primary care provider with special interest in preventative health, women’s health and diabetes prevention. A graduate of the University of Toledo Medical School, Dr. Graves-Austin specialized in internal medicine. Her philosophy of care is “treating patients like family.”

All Community Health locations are open and accepting patients. 

Community Health is Vermont’s largest FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center), a network of primary care, pediatric, behavioral health, dental and pharmacy services with offices in Rutland, Brandon, Castleton, West Pawlet and Shoreham. Community Dental offices are located in Rutland and Shoreham, Community Health Pediatrics is in Rutland and Behavioral Health services are available at all of our locations. Community Health Express Care centers, open 7 days-a-week, are located at the Rutland and Castleton Community Health Centers.

The mission of Community Health (Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region) is to improve the health and wellness of all people in the communities we serve by providing access to excellent medical and dental primary care regardless of any financial consideration.

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