Common Co-infections of Lyme Disease?

Many people who have Lyme disease focus only on it, but the fact is that there are a number of common co-infections 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 tick borne illnesses in addition to Lyme disease. In about 30% of cases, Lyme patients have been found to be suffering from other infections as well.

The most common tick borne illnesses in the US are:

  • Anaplasmosis/ Ehrlichiosis

  • Babesiosis

  • Bartonella

  • Mycoplasma

  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF)

  • Tickborne relapsing fever

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Anaplasmosis Ehrlichiosis

Anaplasmosis is a form of ehrlichiosis, a family of bacterial diseases. At present, only 2 of these diseases 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

  • anemia

  • elevated liver enzymes

  • kidney failure

  • breathing issues.

Babesiosis

Babesiosis accounts for about one-third of all Lyme coinfections. It is a malarial like illness that appears similar to Lyme, but with some key differences, which include:

  • High fever

  • Chill

  • Drenching sweats

  • Shortness of breath

  • Hip pain

  • Chest pain

Bartonella

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

  • An unusual streaked rash that resembles “stretch mar