Common Coinfections of Lyme Disease?
Many people who have Lyme disease focus only on it, but the fact is that there are some common coinfections of Lyme disease that can also cause health issues and make Lyme treatment more complicated.
Ticks are parasites that live on the blood of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
They are not choosy about who they bite and feed on.
That being the case, they can pick up many different bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoans all at the same time and pass them all to a human with one single bite.
There are a number of tickborne illnesses in addition to Lyme disease.
In about 30% of cases, Lyme patients have been found to be suffering from other infections as well.
Coinfections Of Lyme Disease
The most common tickborne illnesses in the US are:
- Anaplasmosis/ Ehrlichiosis
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF)
- Tickborne relapsing fever
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Anaplasmosis is a form of ehrlichiosis, a family of bacterial diseases.
At present, only 2 of these conditions can be tested for.
They are commonly carried by the same ticks that carry Lyme.
The symptoms for Lyme may be present, but also:
- Sudden high fever, and in severe cases:
- Low white blood cell count, so the immune system is affected
- low platelet count, so blood clotting is affected
- kidney failure
- elevated liver enzymes
- breathing issues.
Anaplasmosis can be fatal in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
A range of antibiotics can help.
Babesiosis accounts for about one-third of all Lyme coinfections.
It is a malarial like illness that appears similar to Lyme, but with some fundamental differences, which include:
- High fever
- Drenching sweats
- Hip pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
If untreated, it can lead to anemia and renal failure.
It can be detected in the blood, but only in the earliest stages of the infection.
Bartonella accounts for about one-third of all Lyme coinfections.
It is becoming increasingly common because it can come from many sources, not just ticks, though they are a major vector.
It can affect the lining of blood vessels and can cause serious illness, including endocarditis, which can affect the heart.
Early signs of bartonellosis in addition to Lyme symptoms include:
- Poor appetite
- Swollen glands in the neck and under the arms
- An unusual streaked rash that resembles ìstretch marksî from pregnancy
- numbness in the hands and feet
- Neurological symptoms such as:
- blurred vision
- trouble walking and
- memory loss
- balance problems
- tremors such as with Parkinsonís disease. A course of several antibiotics can usually clear it up.
Mycoplasma are even smaller than bacteria and invade human cells, interfering with the proper function of the immune system. It causes similar symptoms to Lyme, particularly:
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches
- Cognitive problems.
Mycoplasmas can be treated effectively with antibiotics.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF)
This is carried by some ticks and can be contracted anywhere in North or South America, not just in the Rocky Mountains.
The symptoms in the early stages are like Lyme.
The key difference is the distinctive rash that gives it its name.
It used to be referred to as black measles.
The tick bite site might look black or encrusted as well.
It can be fatal if not treated promptly with antibiotics.
Tickborne relapsing fever
As the name suggestions, a person may fall ill, recover, and then relapse, or become ill again.
This pattern forms in a three-day ill, seven days well, three days sick pattern that can go on for weeks or months if it is not treated.
The symptoms are similar to Lyme.
For more information on common co-infections with Lyme, see the chart at:
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