Lyme Disease Doctor

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West Nile Virus: An Invisible Threat with Far-Reaching Impacts

Written by Dr. Diane Mueller:  In the intricate web of life, sometimes the smallest creatures can have the most profound impacts. One such example is the West Nile Virus, a member of the Flavivirus family, often transmitted by an organism as seemingly insignificant as a mosquito. Yet, this tiny virus has the potential to cross the blood-brain barrier, leading to serious neurological conditions and affecting our health in ways we might never have imagined.

Birds, often seen as symbols of freedom and grace, can unfortunately serve as optimal hosts for harboring the West Nile Virus. This highlights the interconnectedness of our ecosystem and the delicate balance that exists between all living beings.

The symptoms of West Nile Virus can be as varied as they are unsettling. Most commonly, people experience fevers, a sign of the body’s battle against the invading virus. However, the virus can also lead to more severe conditions such as meningitis and encephalitis, both serious inflammations of the brain and its surrounding tissues.


west nile virus

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West Nile Virus Symptoms:

Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Imagine the meninges as a soft, protective wrap, cradling our most vital control center – the nervous system. When meningitis strikes, this protective wrap becomes inflamed, causing symptoms like severe headache, fever, and a stiff neck. It’s like a storm disrupting the calm, causing distress and discomfort in its wake. Meningitis can be caused by various pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and requires immediate medical attention to prevent serious complications.

On the other hand, encephalitis involves inflammation of the brain itself. Picture your brain as a complex command center, directing every function in your body, from movement to memory, from sensation to emotion. Encephalitis is like a fire in this command center, disrupting its normal functioning and leading to symptoms such as fever, headache, confusion, and in severe cases, seizures or paralysis. Often caused by viral infections, including the West Nile Virus, encephalitis is a serious condition that underscores the importance of our brain’s health in our overall wellbeing.

Both meningitis and encephalitis remind us of the intricate and delicate nature of our bodies. It is really important that we take our body’s symptoms seriously. Meningitis and encephalitis can really impact the future of our brain health. Taking action to avoid infections getting into the areas of the brain helps to prevent against damage to this area.

Other symptoms of West Nile are less scary and may include headache, eye pain, vomiting, anorexia, and a rash. While these symptoms are less distressing distressing than meningitis or encephalitis, they can be emotionally draining as they disrupt our daily lives and create a sense of uncertainty and fear.

Diagnosing West Nile Virus typically involves an antibody test. However, it’s important to note that the symptoms of West Nile Virus can mimic other diseases, making diagnosis a challenge. Conditions such as herpes, dengue fever, varicella zoster, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Powassan virus, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever can all present with similar symptoms.

The long-term impacts of West Nile Virus, if not treated, can be far-reaching. Neurological symptoms may persist, affecting a person’s ability to think, remember, and function normally. 

Eye problems can impact vision, one of our most valued senses. Heart problems, pancreatitis, and muscular problems can also occur, affecting various aspects of physical health and wellbeing.

The journey through West Nile Virus can be a challenging one, filled with uncertainty and concern. However, knowledge is power. By understanding the virus, its transmission, symptoms, and potential impacts, we can better prepare ourselves to prevent, recognize, and respond to this health threat.

Remember, if you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms that may indicate West Nile Virus, get tested. It is important to rule out other diseases as well. As Lyme Disease causes such common symptoms, please see our blog called: Lyme Disease Symptoms


In the face of health challenges like West Nile Virus, let’s remember to support each other, to spread awareness, and to advocate for our health and the health of our loved ones. After all, we’re all in this together.


Remember that since there are so many diseases that can cause such similar symptoms, proper testing is essential. Some of the commercial tests that are on the market for West Nile as well as other infections written about in this article are not always accurate. We specialize in our clinic in difficult cases and in running the most up to date tests to get you the answers that you deserve.  Symptoms can be very scary. When you have answers,  then the answers can guide the treatment.


For more information on Lyme Disease Symptoms See our Blog Below

Sources for West Nile Virus


Clark MB, Schaefer TJ. West Nile Virus. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:

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The Causes or Mechanisms of Action

Despite the sometimes-similar symptoms, the MOAs of these two conditions are very different:

  • Lyme Disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii. Lyme is a bacterial infection.
  • The cause of Fibro is much less clear and could involve genetic, hormonal or other factors. Gut health may play a role too. But the primary MOA is thought to be a dysfunction of pain sensitization. You can read more in our FM blog here.  
  • Fibromyalgia is often triggered by a stressful event, including an infection, trauma (due to an accident, serious injury or divorce) or major surgery. FM can actually be triggered by an infection like Lyme Disease.

What is the Link?

Similar Symptoms & Mis-Diagnosis

  • FM can be mis-diagnosed as Lyme disease.
  • Late-stage chronic Lyme disease can be mistaken for FM.
  • Lyme Disease can trigger Fibromyalgia.

So how do we differentiate between LD and FM?

How do we untangle symptoms and identify a case of chronic Lyme disease vs post-infectious Fibromyalgia?

We need to do a thorough exam, the correct labs and a deep analysis of the overlapping symptoms. There are other things to look at to get a correct diagnosis. These include:

  • A history of a bulls-eye rash, a tick bite or spending time in areas where Lyme Disease has been reported are good indicators that it could well be Lyme.
  • Antibiotics should improve Lyme Disease symptoms, while they don’t help in the case of Fibromyalgia.
  • Pain in specific tender points is associated with Fibromyalgia more than other illnesses.
  • Stiffness in Lyme Disease occurs mainly in the neck and joints. In Fibromyalgia, it is usually widespread pain.
  • Lyme Disease can cause arthritis symptoms and swollen joints, especially in the knees. Fibromyalgia causes pain and stiffness but doesn’t typically involve swelling or damage to the joints.

In our clinic, we have expertise in treating a range of complicated, difficult-to-diagnose conditions like Fibromyalgia and Lyme Disease. We look for the root causes in our patients to identify what could be causing the symptoms. We regularly treat and resolve Lyme, chronic infections and other complex conditions in patients in our Functional Medicine clinic.

Have Lyme Disease or suspect that you do?

We have helped thousands of
people restore their health
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“Dr. Mueller’s approach to medicine is refreshing! There is only so much you can do with western medicine and in my life I was needing a new approach.  By addressing the whole body, nutritional diet factors, environmental factors, blood work, and incorporating ideas I had not previously known, I was able to break through with my conditions.  I am not only experiencing less pain in my life, but through the process of healing guided by Dr. Diane Mueller, I am now happy to say I have more consciousness surrounding how I eat, what to eat and when things are appropriate.  Living by example Dr. Mueller has a vibrancy that makes you want to learn and know more about your body and overall health.  I highly recommend her to anyone looking for new answers, a new approach to health, or in need of freedom from pain and limitations.”

-Storie S.

Kihei, HI

Lyme Disease is Often Misdiagnosed as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Depression,
or Other Illnesses

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