Dear Pharmacist: On Facebook, you said people catch Lyme disease from their pets, which tote ticks. That’s how I got Lyme, and I have Bartonella too. I found out because of you, and it explained my symptoms of joint pain, confusion, memory loss and seizures. I owe my life to you! I love you, don’t take that the wrong way. — D.C., Des Moines, Iowa
Answer: Thank you, D.C. Lyme is is the fastest growing epidemic in the United States. It’s been a focus for me ever since my first column which sparked thousands of “atta girl” emails from 27 countries. Few medical journalists tackle Lyme because it’s extremely controversial. You see, some physicians don’t believe chronic lyme exists, and there’s a huge divide about treatment protocols. So while the docs are busy arguing about whether it’s real, and how long to treat patients, most Lymies are misdiagnosed. They bounce from doctor to doctor, suffer beyond belief and some die. Others want to.
There are 30 Bartonella-like or “Bart” species; you can get infected from cat bites/scratches, mites, fleas, mosquitoes, biting flies and ticks. Sadly, antibody blood tests only detect a few strains. So your test result may say negative for Bart (and Lyme for that matter), but you may still have it. Physicians unaware of the limitations of standard ELISA blood tests mistakenly accept a “negative” result and diagnose you with a neurological or autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, CFS or any one of 300 diseases that Lyme mimics. It’s a terrible oversight because you might really have Lyme and co-infections like Bart, Babesia or Ehrlichia.
I’m sure you’re already alarmed by now, but do you realize there’s no conclusive test for fibromyalgia or CFS? These are diagnoses of “exclusion,” meaning your doctor tests you and rules out every other disease before stamping you with fibro/CFS, but you must ask if Lyme and Bartonella have been ruled out properly by capable, specialized laboratories. For Lyme, I recommend Igenex Labs. For Bartonella, I recommend either Igenex or Galaxy Labs. Even with all their limitations, they’re still more reliable than standard ELISA tests, which are frequently wrong.
I interviewed a lyme-literate medical doctor, Marty Ross, M.D., who said “I often make my decision to treat Bartonella based on symptoms. If you have enough Bartonella symptoms, you should be treated for the infection regardless of testing.” I suggest you get Dr. Ross’s free treatment manual from www.treatlyme.net.
Bart symptoms include chronic fatigue, pain, muscle twitching (fasciculations), anxiety, depression, abdominal pain, vomiting, fever/chills, autistic-like symptoms, hallucinations, neuropathy, tinnitus, joint pain, skin rash, stretch marks, memory loss, brain fog, cystitis or excessive day sweats. Bartonella affects the brain, and vision causing conjunctivitis, foreign body sensation, vision loss, optic neuritis, redness, blurriness and light sensitivity.
I actually have more to say on this matter. To receive an extended version of my article, sign up for my free newsletter at www.dearpharmacist.com. I also recommend an excellent book by Stephen Harrod Buhner, called “Healing Lyme Disease Co-infections” available at Amazon.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For more information about Suzy Cohen, visit her website at www.suzycohen.com.