Lyme disease is difficult enough to deal with on its own, but it rarely travels alone. Many patients and doctors are under the impression that Lyme disease is a singular condition. While this can be the case, it is often not. The borrelia bacteria, which is responsible for Lyme, is not the only pathogen carried by ticks. When a person suffers a tick bite, many other strains of bacteria can be transferred along with the borrelia. Most doctors, many of whom are not Lyme-literate in the first place, are oblivious to Lyme disease co-infections, and don’t understand that they must be treated simultaneously with the Lyme infection. Simply treating the borrelia bacteria will not clear up the rest of the infections, some of which can be extremely dangerous.
Lyme disease on its own is severely debilitating. When it is compounded by other infections, the results can be catastrophic for the patient. The most common Lyme disease co-infections come in different forms; some worsen the symptoms of Lyme, some make the patient more vulnerable to infections, and others introduce a new subset of symptoms, making treatment of the dominant Lyme infection all the more difficult. Any and every doctor treating a Lyme patient should know about the main co-infections, and devise a plan to treat them all simultaneously.
Chlamydia pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae
These two Lyme disease co-infections are some of the most common that patients experience. In Europe, it is estimated that up to 80% of people infected with Lyme also suffer from chlamydia pneumoniae. Mycoplasma, on the other hand, is an extremely stealthy strain of bacteria, whose microscopic size (4000 of them can fit in one red blood cell) makes for a dangerously effective parasite.
These two conditions are closely linked. Both have a preference for lung tissue, and can cause all sorts of respiratory issues. On their own, these infections are not considered serious; they will usually present as a standard upper respiratory infection. However, when combined with Lyme disease and a struggling immune system, these bacteria can wreak havoc in the body, leading to much more serious complications like bronchitis or pneumonia.
Bartonella is traditionally associated with cat-scratch fever, a non-serious condition with mild symptoms. However, recent studies of bartonella have suggested this pathogen is more complex than first imagined. Bartonella takes aim at specialised white blood cells when it enters the body. It puts up a cyst around itself for protection, while also turning off the cell’s ability to self-destruct. Once it cements its position inside the blood vessels, using its white blood cell host as a means of gaining entry, it feasts on red blood cells as its prime nutrient source.
When a person’s immune system is in good shape, bartonella isn’t all that threatening. The body’s natural immune response is able to repress the threat within a couple of weeks. However, if the person has a compromised immune system due to other infections like Lyme disease, Bartonella can become chronic, meaning a patient will suffer with the disease for many weeks, months or years.
Ehrlichiosis is a term that describes a few different bacterial diseases, one of which is called anaplasmosis. The clinical symptoms presented by these two infections are the same. They occur as flu-like symptoms and usually come on suddenly; high fever, headaches, fatigue and muscle aches are all common complaints. The severity of this disease can be mild or life-threatening, as it can weaken the immune system, significantly reducing the patient’s white blood cell count.
Again, this is another infection that compounds the predominant Lyme infection. Both have the effect of weakening the immune system, meaning that both infections are strengthened by the other. It has recently been suggested that tick-transmitted anaplasmosis is in fact more dangerous than Lyme disease, according to in-patient reports in the state of Maine, a notoriously tick-heavy state.
Babesia are not bacteria, as such; they are parasites. Babesiosis is akin to malaria in many ways. Babesia infect the red blood cells and scavenge nutrients from them to keep themselves alive and propagate. While this sounds incredibly malicious, a healthy person might not even notice they have babesiosis at all, as it presents with very few symptoms. It actually doesn’t interfere with the body much on its own, but problems arise when the immune system is compromised.
Babesiosis can greatly exacerbate Lyme disease, prolonging and adding to the bouts of fatigue many patients experience, while introducing other non-specific symptoms like night sweats, chills, flushing, vomiting, nausea and intestinal problems.
BCA-clinic know how important it is to treat Lyme disease co-infections simultaneously with the main disease. They have been treating Lyme for many years, and have discovered that co-infections are extremely common. It’s time for other doctors around the world to educate themselves on the dangers of these co-infections, as ignoring them can have catastrophic results for patients.