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The Overlap of Parasites and Lyme Disease

parasites and lyme disease

Written by Dr. Diane Mueller:  Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by ticks. It causes flu-like symptoms and a characteristic bullseye rash. Studies estimate that anywhere from 40-80% of Lyme disease patients are also infected with parasites. This is far higher than the general population. So there’s a connection to between parasites and Lyme disease.

While the bacteria that causes Lyme – Borrelia burgdorferi – is well known, research shows there may be another factor that exacerbates Lyme symptoms: parasites.



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Possible Reasons Why there’s an Overlap Between Lyme Disease and Parasites

  • Tick connection – Ticks can transmit parasitic organisms like Babesia in addition to the Lyme bacteria. Getting bitten by an infected tick raises risk for both.
  • Suppressed immunity – The Lyme bacteria impairs immune function. This makes the body more susceptible to parasites and other infections.
  • Chronic symptoms – Lyme and parasites both cause similar long-lasting symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, and neurological issues. Having both could worsen symptoms.
  • Undetected parasites – Parasites often go undiagnosed. Doctors look for the Lyme bacteria but may miss parasites existing simultaneously in the body.

Common Parasitic Co-Infections with Lyme Disease

A number of parasitic organisms have been found in Lyme patients. The most common include:

  • Babesia – Babesia are malaria-like parasites transmitted by ticks. They infect and destroy red blood cells.
  • Bartonella – Bartonella causes cat scratch fever. It may get into the blood from tick or flea bites.
  • Toxoplasma – Toxoplasma is a parasite found in undercooked meat and cat feces. It forms cysts that hide out in the body.
  • Giardia – Giardia parasites causes “traveler’s diarrhea.” It spreads through contaminated food and water.
  • Cryptosporidium – Another diarrheal illness, often spread through contaminated swimming pools and water.
  • Whipworm, tapeworm, flukeworm – Intestinal parasites that can impair gut health and nutrient absorption.

Should Lyme Patients Get Tested For Parasites?

Based on the high rates of co-infection, experts often recommend Lyme patients get tested for parasites may include:

  • Blood smear – Checking for parasitic organisms inside red blood cells.
  • Stool sample – Stool ova & parasite test to look for intestinal parasites.
  • PCR test – Lab test for parasitic DNA. More sensitive than antibody tests.
  • Antigen test – Measures levels of parasites like Babesia in the bloodstream.

Unfortunately, current lab tests are not able to identify every human parasite. Parasites often go undetected because they can burrow deep and hide from tests. It’s good to just assume parasites may be present and take action.

Treatment also differs – Lyme is treated with antibiotics while parasites require anti-parasitic medication. Treating both concurrently may improve outcomes.


Seeing Parasites in Stool

It may be gross, but seeing parasites in your stool can actually be a good sign!

It is very common for those with chronic illness to start passing parasites in their stool when on an anti-parasitic protocol, especially when combined with supplements that heal the gut lining.

As the gut lining heals, it may push out parasites that were burrowed deep in the damaged tissue. So don’t be alarmed if you start to notice them! Keep going with your anti-parasitic protocol.

The Key Takeaways Between Parasites and Lyme Disease

Parasitic co-infections are very common in people with Lyme disease and chronic illness. Evaluating for and treating parasites alongside other treatments could help resolve stubborn symptoms.

Don’t rely on lab tests alone – assume parasites may be present and take action. Using anti-parasitics, gut healers, and disrupters like NAC can help eradicate parasites.

Seeing parasites pass in your stool while on these protocols is gross but can be a good sign of healing! Work with a practitioner to create a customized parasite cleansing plan. Eliminating parasites may help you finally feel better.

As always, consult your healthcare provider for personalized medical advice and feel free to book a free call with us and we can

For more information on the topic of Black Mold Illness see our other blogs:


Krause PJ, McKay K, Gadbaw J, et al. Increasing prevalence of Babesia microti in patients diagnosed with Lyme disease in Connecticut. J Parasitol Res. 2019;2019:6174957. doi:10.1155/2019/6174957

Krause PJ, Narasimhan S, Wormser GP, et al. Human Borrelia miyamotoi infection in the United States. N Engl J Med. 2013;368(3):291-293. doi:10.1056/NEJMc1215469

Krause PJ, Telford SR 3rd, Spielman A, et al. Concurrent Lyme disease and babesiosis. Evidence for increased severity and duration of illness. JAMA. 1996;275(21):1657-1660. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530450033031


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