Lyme disease caught in the earlier stages is often treated with a simple dose of antibiotics effective in eradicating the infection. However, if not detected early, or if other infections exist alongside Lyme disease, recovery can be more challenging to achieve. The ability of the bacteria associated with Lyme and it’s Co-infections to “hide out” undetected, compromising the immune system, could be linked to a number of more serious chronic illnesses.
A large majority of patients who test positive for Lyme also test positive for at least one other co-infection. One tick may carry more than one infection in a single bite. These co-infections may account for the wide range of symptoms amongst chronic sufferers of Lyme disease. Some of the co-infections include Babesia, Ehrlichia, and Bartonella although there are at least 13 in total that have been identified.
Coinfection of Babesia
Babesia, the most common piroplasm infecting humans is from a malaria-like parasite that infects red blood cells. Ticks also carry Babesia and may carry it alone or alongside Lyme spirochetes. This coinfection of Lyme disease can also be transmitted through a blood transfusion.
Symptoms of babesiosis resemble the same ones associated with Lyme disease but it more often starts with a high fever and chills. Progression of the disease is marked by fatigue, headaches, and vomiting.
Babesiosis can be life threatening in individuals with no spleen, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems. Complications include very low blood pressure, liver problems, severe anemia, and kidney failure.
Coinfection of Ehrlichia
Also caused by tick-borne parasites this bacteria infects white blood cells. There are two types of ehrlichia known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) and human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME). HGE was later renamed “anaplasmosis” in 2003. Although it is not known for sure, it is likely that HGE and HME are transmitted from two different ticks. The lone star tick likely transmits HME and the deer tick HGE
Fatigue, headache, sudden high fever, muscle aches. Severely ill patients can have low white blood cell count, low platelet count, anemia, elevated liver enzymes, kidney failure and respiratory problems.
Coinfection of Bartonella
Bartonella are bacteria living inside cells and can infect humans, mammals and a wide range of wild animals. There are many different species of Bartonella transmitted from fleas, body lice, cats and ticks. Although the bacteria are most commonly spread from cats, Bartonellosis has been found in some humans who recall a tick bite and have had no known exposure to cats.
At least 5 different types of bartonella bacteria have been identified in I.Pacificus Ticks collected in California.
The symptoms of Bartonella are fairly mild with fever, headache, chills, loss of appetite. It also presents an unusual rash that resembles cat scratches or lines that run vertically. Patients may also experience swollen glands under the armpits, and on the neck.