Lyme disease is an emerging worldwide infectious disease with major foci of endemicity in North America and regions of temperate Eurasia. The erythema migrans rash associated with early infection is found in approximately 80% of patients and can have a range of appearances including the classic target bull's-eye lesion and nontarget appearing lesions.
A survey was designed to assess the ability of the general public to distinguish various appearances of erythema migrans from non-Lyme rashes. Participants were solicited from individuals who visited an educational website about Lyme disease.
Of 3,104 people who accessed a rash identification survey, 72.7% of participants correctly identified the classic target erythemamigrans commonly associated with Lyme disease. A mean of 20.5% of participants was able to correctly identify the four nonclassic erythemamigrans. 24.2% of participants incorrectly identified a tick bite reaction in the skin as erythema migrans.
Participants were most familiar with the classic target erythema migrans of Lyme disease but were unlikely to correctly identify the nonclassic erythema migrans. These results identify an opportunity for educational intervention to improve early recognition of Lyme disease and to increase the patient's appropriate use of medical services for early Lyme disease diagnosis.