Lyme Disease Treatment

What are Tick-Borne Diseases?

tick biting what are tick borne illnesses

Article Summary

  • Most ticks are infected with a wide range of bacteria and pathogens that can be harmful to humans
  • Tick-borne illnesses are transmitted by a tick bite from an infected tick
  • There are many common tick-borne diseases in addition to Lyme Disease
  • Tick-borne illnesses share many of the same symptoms
  • Left untreated, tick-borne diseases can be difficult to treat using conventional methods such as antibiotics
  • Tick-borne illnesses mimic the symptoms of many other diseases, leading to misdiagnosis and chronically poor health

What are Tick-Borne Diseases?

Tick-borne diseases are found all over the world, transmitted by infected ticks carrying pathogens that cause human diseases.

Ticks carry multiple infectious organisms, causing multiple diseases. For example, the black-legged tick, which is found throughout the eastern U.S. and across the Midwest, is capable of transmitting Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and the Powassan virus.

Tick-borne illnesses have a wide range of effects ranging from mild to deadly but can share some common symptoms.

Lack of reliable and accurate testing often leads to an incorrect diagnosis and this can be dangerous because effective treatment is dependent upon accurate identification of the condition.

Further complicating the issue is that most people do not recall being bitten.

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Common Tick-Borne Illnesses

Lyme disease is the most well-known and common tick-borne illness1, although, as noted above, ticks can carry multiple infectious organisms, or co-infections, that cause multiple diseases.

Tick bites often go unnoticed as they are usually painless and can be so small that they may be easily overlooked. With the prevalence of tick-borne diseases on the rise, it is important to look for tell-tale signs after you have spent time outdoors.

These are some of the most common tick-borne illnesses.

Lyme Disease

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease, is caused by the transfer of bacteria through the bite of an infected black-legged tick, commonly known as a deer tick. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours for the disease to be transmitted.

Initial Symptoms of Lyme disease

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fever
  • Characteristic “bulls-eye” rash

When left untreated, Lyme disease can spread throughout the body for several months or years after infection, affecting the heart, joints, and nervous system leading to a wide variety of symptoms.

Treatment for Lyme Disease

Treatment for Lyme disease is most effective when detected early. Patients receiving a course of antibiotic treatment early on can usually expect to recover. However, antibiotics are often not effective beyond the first few weeks after infection.

Also, Lyme disease can be difficult to detect by most lab tests, so it is important to see a healthcare professional who can accurately detect the presence of Lyme disease as well as effectively treats patients during any stage of the illness.

Anaplasmosis

What is Anaplasmosis? 

Anaplasmosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum that is mainly carried by ticks and transmitted to humans by a tick bite. It is also possible, although rare, to be spread by blood transfusions.

Symptoms2 of Anaplasmosis

Symptoms of Anaplasmosis will begin to show within a week or two of the tick bite and may include one or more of the following:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

If not treated promptly, later symptoms of the disease include:

  • Bleeding complications
  • Organ shutdown
  • Respiratory failure
  • Death

You are at greater risk if you are older, have a weakened immune system, or delay treatment.

Treatment for Anaplasmosis

The antibiotic doxycycline is widely used in the treatment of anaplasmosis. This treatment can be effective if the infection is recognized early and treatment is started right away. Antibiotics are much less effective in late-stage infections.

Babesiosis

What is Babesiosis?

Like malaria, babesiosis is a microscopic parasitic infection of the red blood cells. The parasite Babesia microti is responsible for causing most cases, although some are caused by other strains of Babesia. Babesiosis occurs most often in parts of the upper Midwest and parts of the Northeast, usually peaking in warmer months.

Symptoms of Babesiosis

Some people do not experience any symptoms. For those who do, symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • High fever
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Hemolytic Anemia (due to the destruction of red blood cells).

Treatment for Babesiosis

Babesiosis is diagnosed by examining blood under a microscope and seeing Babesia parasites inside red blood cells. Conventional treatment usually consists of Atovaquone plus azithromycin; OR Clindamycin PLUS quinine. If you are experiencing any symptoms, it is important to get a proper diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.

Borrelia Miyamotoi

What is Borrelia miyamotoi?

Borrelia miyamotoi is a spiral-shaped bacteria that is distantly related to the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It is one of the newer tick-borne infections, first identified in 1995 in Japanese ticks, and has since been detected in North American ticks that are known to cause Lyme and anaplasmosis. Borrelia Miyamotoi occurs most often in parts of the upper Midwest and Northeast, usually peaking in warmer months.

Symptoms of Borrelia miyamotoi

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Joint and body pain
  • Relapsing fever

Treatment for Borrelia miyamotoi

Treatment typically involves a course of antibiotics.

Colorado Tick Fever

What is Colorado Tick Fever?

Colorado Tick Fever (CTF) is a rare disease spread by infected Rocky Mountain wood ticks. CTF is an RNA virus belonging to the genus Coltivirus. Principally found in western U.S. and western Canada, Colorado Tick Fever was named for the Kansas county in which it was discovered in 2014. This virus is believed to be spread by a tick or other insect bites.

Symptoms of Colorado Tick Fever

Symptoms usually appear within one to 14 days and may include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Skin rash
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Sore neck
  • Severe bleeding
  • Encephalitis
  • Heart problems

It is common for patients to experience a two to three-day remission, only to have a recurrence that is accompanied by a drop in white blood cells.

Treatment for Colorado Tick Fever

There is no conventional medical treatment for CTF; cases are usually only treated symptomatically with pain-relievers and fluids.

Ehrlichiosis

What is Ehrlichiosis?

The first case of ehrlichiosis3 in humans was identified in 1986; it was previously recognized only as a veterinary pathogen. Ehrlichiosis is primarily spread to people through the bite of infected ticks such as the Lone Star tick and the black-legged tick, primarily in the central and southeastern parts of the U.S.

Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis

Early symptoms usually appear within the first five days of infection and can include:

  • Severe headache
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Rash

Late-stage symptoms can include:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Organ shutdown
  • Damage to the brain or nervous system
  • Respiratory failure
  • Death

Treatment for Ehrlichiosis

Severe illness can develop by delaying initial antibiotic treatment. The very old or very young, and those with a weakened immune system are particularly vulnerable.

Heartland Virus

What is Heartland Virus?

Heartland Virus is a viral disease that was first identified in Missouri and is believed to be spread through the bite of an infected Lone Star tick. This virus belongs to the genus Phlebovirus, which includes viruses that may also be transmitted by mosquitoes and sandflies.

Symptoms of Heartland Virus

Most patients experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Decreased white blood cell counts
  • Decreased platelet counts
  • Increased levels of liver enzymes

Treatment for Heartland Virus

Conventional medicine currently offers no treatment to those diagnosed with Heartland virus.

Powassan encephalitis

What is Powassan encephalitis?

The powassan virus4 is rare, although the number of reported cases has increased in recent years. The virus can be transmitted more rapidly than many other tick-borne microbes, in as little as 15 minutes after tick attachment. Principally occurring in the northeastern and Great Lakes region from late spring through mid-fall, the powassan virus belongs to a group of viruses that can cause encephalitis or meningitis.

Symptoms of Powassan encephalitis

It is not unusual for people infected with the Powassan virus to not experience any symptoms. If they do, however, initial symptoms can include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting

Symptoms of severe illness include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Seizures
  • Loss of coordination
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Dementia
  • Death

Treatment for Powassan virus

There are no conventional medical treatments for the Powassan virus. People who have serious symptoms will most likely require hospitalization to stay hydrated, reduce swelling in the brain, and receive support for breathing.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

What is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever5 (RMSF) is one of the deadliest tick-borne diseases in the Western Hemisphere. It was initially recognized in the Rocky Mountain states, hence its name. Infection in humans occurs mostly from March to September in children under 15 years, and in people who frequent tick-infested areas.RMSF is particularly dangerous because the onset is abrupt, and the disease can rapidly progress to a serious, life-threatening illness.

Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Lack of appetite

Symptoms of severe illness include:

  • Insomnia
  • Delirium
  • Coma
  • Hypotension
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Seizures
  • Loss of coordination
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Dementia

Without treatment, the following can occur:

  • Pneumonia
  • Tissue necrosis
  • Circulatory failure
  • Brain and heart damage
  • Cardiac arrest

Treatment for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

It is important to start antibiotics early. Doxycycline is the primary antibiotic used in the treatment and can be given to adults and children.

Southern Tick-Associated Rash

What is Southern Tick-Associated Rash (STAR)?

STAR, also known as Masters disease, is transmitted by the Lone Star tick. The rash is similar to that of Lyme disease, usually appearing within seven days of the tick bite and expanding to a diameter of three inches or more.

Symptoms of Southern Tick-Associated Rash

The symptoms of STAR are similar to those of Lyme disease:

  • A red, expanding “bull’s-eye”
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Joint and muscle pains

Treatment for Southern Tick-Associated Rash

Because STAR so closely resembles the early stages of Lyme disease, it is often treated with oral antibiotics.

How are Tick-Borne Illnesses Treated?

Tick-borne illnesses are most often treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics can be effective if given soon after receiving a tick bite.

However, since some adult ticks can be as small as the size of a sesame seed6, they are difficult to see on your body, thereby delaying identification and treatment.

Also, because their bite is not painful, most people do not notice if or when they were bitten. This can render the benefits of antibiotics largely ineffective by the time the illness has progressed to a late-stage or chronic infection. That’s why it’s important to get properly tested as soon as possible if you know or think you may have been bitten by a tick.

If a patient has a chronic or late-stage infection, they will usually require a more comprehensive treatment protocol to both clear the infection and repair the damage caused to the body from the chronic infection.

We have more than two decades of experience helping patients overcome these types of difficult-to-treat, tick-borne infections.

Get Tested for Tick-Borne Illnesses

The tests most commonly used to detect Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are typically not sensitive enough to accurately detect or identify them.

Furthermore, due to the cyclic nature of ticks, they may be active or dormant at any given time, possibly giving a false negative at the time of testing.

Our lab tests are extremely sensitive in order to definitively determine if you have Lyme disease or another tick-borne illness. Having a proper diagnosis is critical for getting the proper treatment.

Natural Tick-Borne Illness Treatment

Most of these tick-borne illnesses are very difficult for conventional medical doctors to treat whose standard tools like antibiotics are not effective after the illness has become late-stage and chronic.

We have been treating patients with tick-borne illnesses naturally and successfully for over twenty years, specializing in an all-natural, highly effective treatment protocol for Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. We have a 94% treatment success rate.

You may have experienced misdiagnoses in the past and as a result been at a loss to understand why you were not improving.

Our Lyme disease test is the most sensitive and accurate test in the world, and our all-natural Lyme disease treatment program is second to none.

Dr. Minkoff is a world-renowned infectious disease doctor and Lyme disease expert and has helped thousands of patients successfully recover from these diseases.

Contact Us

To discuss your symptoms or to schedule an appointment, call us at our Clearwater clinic at 727-466-6789 or submit an online patient inquiry.

To learn more about Lyme disease, please visit our Lyme Disease Section.

References

  1. Global Lyme Alliance, Common Tick-Borne Diseases, 2019.
  2. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Signs and Symptoms | Anaplasmosis, January 11, 2019.
  3. Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Lyme, and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center, Ehrlichiosis, 2020.
  4. Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Lyme, and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center, Powassan Virus, 2020.
  5. Merck Manual, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, William A. Petri, Jr., July 2020.
  6. Global Lyme Alliance, About Ticks & Lyme Disease, 2019.

       *Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary based on a patient’s medical history and other factors.

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About Dr. David Minkoff, MD

Dr. David Minkoff graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1974 and was elected to the “Phi Beta Kappa” of medical schools, the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Fraternity for very high academic achievement. He then completed both a Pediatric Residency and a Fellowship in Infectious Disease at the University of California at San Diego. He worked at the University of California and Children’s Hospitals in San Diego as an attending physician in infectious disease while conducting original research on Ribaviron, a broad spectrum anti-viral agent to fight disease. He also co-directed a neo-natal intensive care unit and worked in emergency medicine. In 1992, Dr. Minkoff’s attended a lecture by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, widely considered the father of functional medicine, during which he had a eureka moment, and began pursuing the alternative health field with a vengeance, studying under the most accomplished thought leaders on natural & integrative healing. In 1997 Dr. Minkoff and his wife set up a small clinic to help friends with their medical problems. What began as an experiment blossomed into Lifeworks Wellness Center, one of the most successful clinics for complementary medicine in the United States.