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Tickborne Co-infections: Why Your Lyme Disease Test Will Not Detect Them (and what you can do about it)

Tickborne diseases are becoming an increasing public health concern, as ticks spread across the country to all 50 states, bringing with them a number of infectious diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tickborne diseases have more than doubled in the last 13 years.

Most people have heard of Lyme disease, which is by far the most prevalent and well-studied, making up 82% of all cases of tickborne diseases.

But, there are other tickborne diseases, commonly referred to as co-infections, which are also transmitted by a variety of different ticks:

  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Bartonellosis
  • Erlichiosis
  • Rickettsiosis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
  • Tularemia
  • Tickborne relapsing fever (TBRF)

These microorganisms are carried by ticks and transmitted to human or animal hosts through the tick’s saliva when it bites the host. It usually takes 24-48 hours for an infected tick to transmit the bacteria that cause the infection.

Tickborne co-infections are not detected on the same tests that look for Lyme disease, because they are caused by different bacteria. The more sensitive the test, like Vibrant’s Tickborne Diseases panel, the more it will differentiate between these microorganisms.

Some of the symptoms of tickborne diseases, including Lyme and co-infections are:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Headache
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Neck stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or joint aches/pains
  • GI symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Change in cognitive or psychological status
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Enlarged, tender lymph nodes
  • Rash
  • Painful abdomen
  • Dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Numbness or weakness in limbs

But symptoms alone cannot differentiate whether you have Lyme disease or another tickborne co-infection, or both.

It is important to test for both categories of diseases transmitted by ticks in order to definitively say whether you have these inflammatory diseases. Consider running Vibrant’s Tickborne Diseases panel for the highest accuracy and sensitivity available.



  1. Tickborne Diseases of the United States: A Reference Manual for Healthcare Providers (5th ed). (2018).