Lyme Disease Co-infections

Further complicating matters is that ticks carry more than just Borrelia, and in fact are host to different bacteria, parasites, and viruses. An infected tick may transmit one, some, or all of the organisms it is carrying, adding to the cocktail and generating an apparently new disease by the combination of symptoms they create.

Some of the common coinfections are:

  • Bartonella: the bacteria responsible for cat scratch fever. Common symptoms include painful feet upon first rising in the morning, unexplained purplish streaks on the skin, and neurological problems.
  • Babesia: a malaria-like organism that infects and kills red blood cells. Babesia can also cause joint pain and swelling, as well as anemia, and other symptoms.
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever: A serious and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection. Symptoms include a rash with small, flat bumps, vomiting, and severe headache.
  • Ehrlichia: Invades and kills white blood cells. Some symptoms are fatigue and muscle aches.


Bartonellosis, also known as Cat Scratch Fever, is a bacterial infection that primarily affects blood vessels. As the name suggests, Bartonella can be transmitted to humans by cat scratches, but also from ticks, sandflies, fleas and lice. Bartonella is a common co-infection our naturopathic doctors detect in patients with Lyme disease. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology (Breitschwerdt) found supporting evidence that Bartonella species could also be passed in utero across the placenta.

There are up to 15 known strains of Bartonella including B. Henselae and B. Quintana. The Naturopathic Doctors at the Nardella Clinic in Calgary can help to determine if you have Bartonella using specialized lab testing and clinical symptoms. Bartonella can cause a long list of systemic symptoms including:

  • Joint pain
  • Fevers
  • Lymph swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore neck
  • Streaked rash (stretch mark appearance)
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea/vomiting/bloating
  • Blurred vision
  • Memory loss
  • Numbness/tingling
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Foot pain

Bartonella is typically treated using a combination of naturopathic therapies and antibiotics. Our Naturopathic Doctors in Calgary have experience helping you to navigate which of these therapies may be most appropriate for your case. These naturopathic treatments include:

  • IV alpha-lipoic acid
  • IV phosphatidylcholine
  • Herbal antimicrobials
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • Ozone and Ultraviolet blood therapy
  • IV hydrogen Peroxide
  • IV high-dose vitamin C

Our Naturopathic Doctors have successfully treated Bartonella by combining these naturopathic therapies with a collaborative care approach, such as your family physician, utilizing appropriate antibiotic treatment. Contact the clinic today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced naturopaths to learn more about testing and treatments for Bartonella.


Babesia is a “malaria-like” parasite that lives on red blood cells. These types of infections are also known as “piroplasms”. There are more than 100 strains of Babesia, however two strains are the most common in humans: Babesia duncani and Babesia microti.

Babesia is considered a Lyme disease “co-infection” since ticks can carry and transmit this infection. However, Babesia can also be passed across the placenta from mother to fetus, and through blood transfusions, as donor blood is not currently screened for Babesia infections. Patients may also contract Babesia from a tick, even though they do not have Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Symptoms of Babesia may be similar to symptoms of Lyme disease. Our naturopathic doctors in Calgary have the necessary experience to use appropriate diagnostic testing and clinical symptoms to determine if Babesia is affecting your health. Some symptoms that are commonly associated with Babesia include:

  • Air hunger/Shortness of Breath
  • High fever
  • Night sweats
  • Easy bruising

Additionally patients may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Muscle twitching
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

Treatments for Babesia include herbal antimicrobials used in combination with antibiotics and anti-malarial medications prescribed by your MD. Our naturopathic doctors may recommend the use of IV artemisinin, an herbal anti-parasitic used extensively for the treatment of malaria and malaria-like parasites, such as Babesia. IV artemisinin is most effective when combined with oxidative treatments such as ozone, ultraviolet blood therapy, IV hydrogen peroxide, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Babesia can cause severe debilitating symptoms, so our naturopathic doctors also utilize supportive therapies. These therapies help with energy, pain, and cognitive support. Our naturopathic doctors at the Nardella Clinic in Calgary may recommend a variety of herbal medications and IV therapies. Supportive IV therapies include curcumin, chelation, alpha-lipoic acid, glutathione and phosphatidylcholine. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has also shown dramatic improvements in our patients suffering from Babesia. To learn more about how a comprehensive naturopathic approach to treating Babesia helped with recovery read here.

Ehrlichia and Anaplasma

Ehrlichia and Anaplasma are tick-born coinfections. These are similar types of organisms that can cause symptoms that range from mild to life threatening. Like other coinfections, these infections can be transmitted from ticks to humans from a tick bite. A patient can contract this infection without contracting the bacteria B. burgdorferi that causes Lyme disease.

Symptoms of Ehrlichia and Anaplasma include:

  • High fevers
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Low platelets
  • Severe fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Splenomegaly
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Anemia

Standard treatment for these bacterial infections is a course of the antibiotic doxycycline. Our naturopaths work with patients to also develop a comprehensive naturopathic treatment plan to support the immune system, address biofilm and manage symptoms of the disease.

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