As if Lyme disease couldn’t get worse, there’s co-infections on top of that. Are you really dealing with Lyme disease or is it a co-infection you should be addressing? Keep reading to learn more about the co-infections of Lyme disease.
What are Co-Infections?
A co-infection refers to having an infection at the same time as another. Diseases and symptoms associated with another infection (in this case, Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses) are known as co-infections.
Ticks can carry multiple infectious diseases, which can be transmitted through a single tick bite. These diseases are called co-infections.
Ticks carry multiple infections such as (and most commonly) Babesia, Bartonella, Rickettsia, Ehrlichia & Anaplasma, etc, so it is not uncommon for somebody to contract Lyme, along with another infection. These co-infections can have very similar symptoms to Lyme, so when your Lyme symptoms continue to persist, it is important to have your doctor check for the possibility of co-infections.
According to LymeDisease.org, “A person with a co-infection generally experiences more severe illness, more symptoms, and a longer recovery. The CDC recommends that physicians consider possible co-infection with babesia or anaplasma when patients have more severe symptoms of Lyme disease.”
What are the most common co-infections?
The most common co-infections are Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Mycoplasma, RMSF, and Anaplasma.
Babesia – Babesia is a parasite, with over 100 known species, that infects red blood cells. Only a few of these known species are harmful to humans but can be deadly to those who do not have an immune system equipped to handle such an attack. It spreads through ticks or contaminated blood.
Symptoms of Babesia may include flu-like symptoms, shortness of breath, body aches, low blood pressure, kidney failure, and anemia.
Bartonella – Bartonella can be transmitted through flea bite, cat scratch/bite, and black-legged ticks. Studies have shown that when infected with both Bartonella henselae AND Borrelia burgdorferi, symptoms are more severe.
Symptoms of Bartonella may include fever, fatigue, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and a streaked rash.
Ehrlichia and Anaplasma – Ehrlichia and Anaplasma present themselves similarly, but are caused by different things. Blood testing is limited in that it only identifies two of the parasite species. However, some doctors will diagnose when patients don’t respond to Lyme treatment.
Symptoms may include low white blood cell count, anemia, kidney, and respiratory problems. The common symptoms present themselves with fever, fatigue, muscle aches, etc.
Mycoplasma – Mycoplasma is a bacteria without cell walls that affect your lungs, skin, or urinary tract.
Symptoms may include coughing, trouble breathing, sore throat, symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, sensitive skin, and bladder pain.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) – RMSF is a bacterial infection that can cause serious damage to your internal organs, if not treated.
Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and distinctive rash.
Other related tick-borne diseases include:
- Colorado Tick Fever
- Powassan Virus
- Q Fever
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (also known as Rickettsia)
- Tick Paralysis
- Tick Borne Relapsing Fever
How common are co-infections?
Common. In a 2017 survey, LymeDisease.org found that in a sample of 3,000 chronic Lyme patients, over half of them had co-infections. Of that group, 30% reported two or more co-infections.
Most ticks are carrying disease, and it was also found that 45% of ticks are carrying up to five different pathogens. Thus, when a tick bites a person, they more than likely are being infected with more than just Lyme disease.
How to treat co-infections
Dr. Richard Horowitz believes that the key to conquering Chronic Lyme is by focusing on treating the co-infections. You must boost the immune system and find ways to kill more than just Lyme bacteria.
We know that antibiotics are not the most effective way to do this. Silver has been shown to make antibiotics more than 1,000 times more effective. This combination could be the answer to combating Lyme co-infections.
Lyme disease and its co-infections should be taken seriously. Many people find themselves unwell after receiving Lyme treatment, and while this can be for many reasons, it is likely that they have co-infections that are not being addressed. If you have Lyme and your symptoms continue to persist, make sure you’ve seen a doctor about the possibility of a co-infection.