Lyme would appear to be the only tick taxi passenger of which we should we wary if judged by social media and news outlines. As a functional medicine doctor, I do appreciate the heightened awareness of Lyme disease so that more of the undiagnosed can finally get answers. However, let us know ignore the fact that ticks serve as able taxis for other bacterial and viral infections. The research world has repeatedly reported this fact, but conventional medicine does not.
This study from Europe obviously can only be extrapolated onto the American epidemiology of ticks, but reveals how commonly such infections travel in the European tick Ixodes Ricinus. Researchers used recently developed screening labs to screen 267 ticks from an area in the French Ardennes for 37 pathogens (bacteria or viruses) and then 4 symbionts (not pathogens for humans, but microbes that may affect the viability and infectivity of ticks). While not surprising to those of us caring for Lyme infected patients, the findings deserve rapt attention from others. Of the 45% which had some infectious agent in them, half possessed at least one more infection type.
I emphasize that this is Europe, but there is no clear reason we should doubt other tick species in the USA may carry multiple infections. For this reason, when we diagnose Lyme in a patient, we order a co-infection panel. These co-infections may include other Borrelia species, Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, or others. To restore health more abundant lives we must identify all the targets. Knowing that these disease travel together in tick taxis helps us search and find all of these targets.
Moutailler, Sara et al. “Co-infection of Ticks: The Rule Rather Than the Exception.” PLoS neglected tropical diseases vol. 10,3 e0004539. 17 Mar. 2016, doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004539