Like Lyme disease, bartonella can also cause a host of symptoms that are migratory and spam multiple body systems. There are several species of the bacteria bartonella which can cause multiple diseases in patients, including Cat Scratch Fever (no, it wasn’t just a song in the 80s) and Trench Fever. Bartonellosis has been detected in 49 out of the 50 states. It often is referred to as a co-infection as these bacteria reside in many of the same ticks, mosquitos, spiders, etc as Lyme disease does.
- Symptoms vary from person to person but tend to affect the gastrointestinal and neurological systems more significantly than Lyme and babesia.
- Common symptoms:
- Light/touch/sound sensitivity, plantar fasciitis or pain on heel/sole of foot, anxiety, migratory neuropathy/pins and needles/tingling/burning, “stretch marks” that stay purple/pink and don’t run in the correct position, brain fog, sudden and unprovoked nausea.
- Testing is difficult with Bartonella because this bacteria hides INSIDE cells. We often rely on antibodies to bartonella to diagnose it. You can get antibody testing either at a general lab or thru Igenix.
- FISH testing: FISH testing is looking for the unique RNA code in Bartonella. This is more specific and sensitive than antibody testing alone. This is available through Igenix. https://igenex.com/disease/bartonella/
- RED Labs* – PCR or DNA testing for Bartonella. This is also available through general labs like Quest or LabCorp.
*Correction from Lyme article – RED Labs also has a unique way of testing lyme/Borellia called phage testing. This test is on the forefront of Lyme detection and can determine if lyme disease is active or if your immune system has just seen this infection in the past.
- Prevention is the best cure! Here are some handy tips from Igenix on how to prevent Lyme disease. https://cdn.igenex.com/wp-content/uploads/2022-Lyme-Disease-Awareness-Month-Tips.pdf
- Herbal Treatment – There are many herbal treatments for Bartonella, with considerable overlap with Lyme and other co-infections. Japanese Knotwood, Chinese Skullcap, Cryptolepis, and Black Walnut are some of the herbs that are specifically effective in treatment of Bartonella. Herbal formulations are nice in the treatment of tick borne illness because it is much easier to tailor the dose to the tolerance of the patient.
- Antibiotics – Antibiotics of choice are rifampin, methylene blue, and ciprofloxacin.
- Ozone therapy – ozone kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
- Treat other supportive body systems: address the thyroid, adrenal glands, vitamin levels, and multiple other organ systems to ensure your body can fight the Lyme
Oftentimes Bartonella accompanies Lyme and other co-infections. I find it is easiest to assess, through history, which bacteria is causing the majority of issues and start with treatment focused on that specific microorganism and then, as tolerated, expand treatment to the other bacteria/organisms. Again, this doesn’t have to be a lifelong diagnosis, but one that can be treated and managed. Dr. Falkner has attended ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) conferences as well as has years of experience treating Lyme both naturally and with antibiotics. Please call for a free phone consult with her if you want to know if she could help in your case.