Lyme disease is bad enough. But it’s just the beginning of a host of odd and ugly diseases ticks transmit, public health officials are finding
Sep 24, 2014 | By Marianne Lavelle and The Daily Climate
Ticks that spread Lyme disease don’t always deliver their misery neat. They can serve up a cocktail of pathogens with one infectious bite. “They are nature’s dirty needle,” said Kathryn Fishman, who suffered for years from fatigue and mental confusion before blood tests revealed she had Lyme and two other lesser-known pathogens. She is office manager for her physician husband’s practice in Maryland and Virginia that focuses on tick-borne diseases. Lyme disease has gotten the headlines. But the wide array of potential diseases ticks carry is one reason that public health officials remain greatly concerned about the geographic spread – linked to both global warming and suburbanization – of the black-legged tick and other ticks in North America. Some scientists believe infection with other tick-borne bacteria or viruses may be one reason that many Lyme disease patients feel chronically ill long after treatment. Testing for Lyme may not pick up signs of those other infections. And the drugs used in treating Lyme are not always effective in treating co-infections picked up from ticks.