Learning more about lyme disease
More information for medical professionals, educators, media and families.

Other Tick-Borne Diseases

Ticks may carry more than one infection:

 

Babesia

Babesiosis is an infection caused by a malaria-like parasite that infects red blood cells (ex. - Babesia microti and B. duncani)). Although rare, it’s possible to contract babesiosis from a contaminated blood transfusion. 

Symptoms may include: (but are not limited to)

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Drenching sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath (air hunger)

Bartonella

Bartonella are bacteria that live inside cells that can infect humans and a wide range of other animals. Not all Bartonella species cause disease in humans. It is also called cat-scratch disease and can cause endocarditis, further serious diseases in humans.

Fleas, body lice and ticks can carry Bartonella. (Source: CanLyme)

Symptoms may include: (but are not limited to)

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Poor appetite
  • A streaked rash that resembles stretch marks
  • Swollen glands (especially around the head, neck and arms)
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Sore throat

Ehrlichiosis/Anaplasmosis

Ehrlichiosis is caused by various types of Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis is caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilum.

Ehrlichiosis was formerly called HME, human monocytic ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis used to be called HGE, human granulocytic ehrlichiosis.

Some studies suggest that, in endemic areas, as many as 15 – 36% of the human population has been infected, although many people may not be aware that they are infected.

Symptoms may include: (but are not limited to)

  • High fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (transmitted by Dermacentor andersoni)

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by bacteria called Rickettsia rickettsii. The disease is treatable with antibiotics; however, 30% of untreated patients die.

Symptoms may include: high fever, rash, headache, and bleeding problems.

Powassan virus (transmitted by I. cookei)

The Powassan virus causes tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Ten percent of infected patients die, and survivors may suffer permanent damage.

Symptoms may include: fever, convulsions, headache, disorientation, lethargy, partial coma and paralysis.

Q Fever

Q Fever is caused by Coxiella burnetii, a kind of bacteria carried by cattle, sheep, and goats.

Symptoms may include: high fever, pneumonia, and abnormal liver function.

Tularemia (transmitted by D. variabilis)

Tularemia (or rabbit fever) is caused by bacteria called Francisella tularensis, and occurs throughout the United States.

Symptoms may include: skin ulcers, swollen and painful lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, pneumonia, diarrhea and vomiting.

Tick Paralysis

Certain ticks secrete a toxin that causes a progressive type of paralysis, which is reversed when the tick is removed. In Canada, Dermacentor andersoni (Rocky Mountain wood tick) is most commonly associated with this condition.

Tick-borne Relapsing Fever

Tick-borne Relapsing Fever is caused by the bacterium, Borrelia hermsii, and is carried by the so-called ‘soft ticks’ of the western United States and BC. It is characterized by cycles of high fever.

These tick-borne diseases are often referred to by those knowledgeable about Lyme disease as, “coinfections,” since they may be transmitted along with Lyme disease. Having multiple infections can cause more severe signs & symptoms. Treatment for Lyme disease can be heavily complicated by the addition of one or several of these coinfections. It often takes a very experience doctor to diagnose and treat each infection.

Like Lyme, many tick-borne infections display early flu-like symptoms (such as fever and headache) which makes diagnosis increasingly difficult.

Like Lyme disease, no one can tell at a glance what, if any, disease/s a tick may carry. The Lyme Disease Association of Alberta (LDAA) heavily stresses the need to PREVENT A TICK BITE.

 

(Source: CanLyme; www.CanLyme.org)

 

A recently published Lymedisease.org survey over 3,000 patients with chronic Lyme disease found that over 50% had coinfections, with 30% reporting two or more coinfections. The most common coinfections were Babesia (32%), Bartonella (28%), Ehrlichia (15%), Mycoplasma (15%), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (6%), Anaplasma (5%), and Tularemia (1%). See illustration.

coinfections

(Lyme disease coinfection rates in lymedisease.org survey of 3000 patients)

(SOURCE: LYMEDISEASE.ORG)