An Alphabet Soup of Co-Infections Complicates Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease Ticks spread pandora's box of pathogens

By Doug Fearn
  • QWhat are these “co-infections” and “associated diseases?
  • AThe ticks that carry the Lyme bacteria also often carry microorganisms that cause other diseases. The most common co-infections are anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, bartonellosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever may be cured by the same antibiotics that are prescribed for Lyme disease. But babesiosis is a different type of disease, caused by a blood parasite and not a bacterium. Antibiotics alone are not effective against babesiosis. Bartonellosis is a bacterial disease, but it requires different antibiotics from those used to treat Lyme disease. All are found in ticks, but some, like bartonellosis, may be spread more often from flea bites.
  • QWhat are these new tick-borne diseases I have read about?
  • AThere are newly-discovered species of tick-borne borrelia that can cause different symptoms. Borrelia mayonii causes symptoms similar to Lyme disease, but nausea and vomiting are more common with this infection and the rash is different from the bull’s-eye rash of Lyme disease. It has been identified mostly in Wisconsin and Minnesota to date.

    Borrelia miyomotoi causes recurrent fevers, along with other symptoms common in Lyme Disease. It has been identified mostly in the northeastern U.S. The effects of this disease are somewhat different and more intense than in typical Lyme disease. It can be acquired from the bite of a larval deer tick, which is too small for most people to even recognize as a tick. Doxycycline is used to initially treat both of these new Lyme disease variants. Little is known about these diseases at this time.

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