Lyme disease, Cat scratch, Mycoplasma, Chronic Fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting

I recently saw a patient with a history of Lyme disease and and a bullseye rash. He had it 4 years ago and was treated with antibiotics. He came to me because of nausea, diarrhea, belly cramps. Many people are unaware that when you are bit by a tic, you can now get a number of other infections such as bartonella ( the bacteria that causes cat scratch fever) and mycoplasma species ( cause of chronic fatigue ), Anaplasma, and babesia ( a parasite). Its not just lyme alone, which makes the picture of what is going on very complicated. Sometimes the labs dont confirm what you suspect and the physician has to go based on symptoms.
Lyme is called the great imitator cause it may mimic over 300 other diseases including, crohn’s, celiac, thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus ( just to name a few). Bartonella also causes enlarged lymph nodes and may mimic appendicitis. These infections may be associated with a rash which resembles stretch marks but occurs in areas where stretch marks dont occur.
My patient had a thorough evaluation by two other Gastro specialist as well as MRI of the brain, While there was no evidence of inflammation, or active infection, these infections often cause the immune system to be activated and chemical from the immune system can affect the body in different ways. I believe in this case, his brain was affecting his gut, causing cramps and diarrhea and vomiting. His endoscopy and colonoscopy were entirely normal, ruling out other causes of nausea vomiting and diarrhea.
Another point to make is– people can get bit more than once with a tic. There are different species of infections carried by tics. One treatment and success doesnt preclude getting bit again and new symptoms or recurring symptoms. Seek out a health professional who will listen to you, believe what you are telling you, who wont dismiss you and has the persistance to pursue and refer if he doesnt know what is going on.

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Lyme disease in the stomach, intestines and colon

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks which may also be carrying other infections such as Bartonella, Mycoplasma etc..

Typical symptoms of Lyme include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system and the Gastrointestinal tract. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful but are not a requirement to making a diagnosis Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases including Bartonella (commonly associated with cat scratch fever), Mycoplasma ( a cause of chronic fatigue syndrome and gulf war syndrome), Ehrlichia, Babesia ( a parasite causing anemia), .

Gastrointestinal Lyme and other tick diseases may present as…

Abdominal pain (belly aches),

blood in the stool ( colitis)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohns disease, Ulcerative colitis

failure to thrive, poor gain weight, not meeting age appropriate milestones

diarrhea and/ or vomiting

heartburn, GERD

constipation with or without motility issues ( Gut issues secondary to neurologic lyme and/or bartonella)

soiling or encopresis

Irritable bowel syndrome

mouth sores

rashes may occur in patients that are not the characteristic bullseye rash and might resemble a stretch mark or be a non descript looking red earlobe or slap face or slap back appearance