Lyme Co-Infections: What Is Chlamydia Pneumoniae?

We are slowly coming to understand the full implications of Lyme disease, but it might be too little too late. The tick-borne infection is on the brink of becoming a worldwide pandemic, if it hasn’t already. Hard data on Lyme is extremely difficult to ascertain, as many thousands of cases go unreported or misdiagnosed every year. Despite this, Lyme is more visible than it has ever been in 2019. More people are aware of the dangers and how Lyme disease is transferred to humans. However, the persistent issue of co-infections has continuously flown under the radar. One of the most prominent of these is named chlamydia pneumoniae.  But what is chlamydia pneumoniae, exactly? And what is the relationship between chlamydia pneumoniae and Lyme disease?

When we talk about co-infections, we refer to infectious bacteria transmitted simultaneously with Lyme via tick bite. Borrelia burgdorferi is the Lyme-causative bacteria, but it’s not the only strain that ticks can carry, nor the only strain that damages humans. Some co-infections are more serious than others, and some become more serious when paired with others. They are dangerously overlooked by the wide majority of medical professionals; this is compounded by the fact that Lyme is barely understood well by many doctors, due to it not being entirely recognized as a legitimate disorder. Examples of common co-infection causative agents include bartonella, Epstein Barr, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and chlamydia pneumoniae.

Infectolab - deer tick
Ticks can transmit many co-infections alongside Lyme disease.

Co-infections can exacerbate Lyme symptoms, induce similar disease manifestations, or both. Chlamydia pneumoniae is an infectious bacterium that can produce symptoms similar to Lyme. It is primarily a respiratory-based pathogen and infects the lining of the lungs. The pathogen causes symptoms by damaging the lining of the lungs, windpipe, and throat. From there, it can also infect the bronchi, the main passageways into the lungs. The pathogen has quite a complex M.O. and must infect another cell in order to propagate. It survives within the host cell in an almost parasitic manner, and produces at least two toxins that promote inflammation and destroy body tissue.

Despite this, on its own chlamydia pneumoniae can be asymptomatic or mild, especially in the early stages. The infection most often presents as an upper respiratory tract infection. Common symptoms, if present, can include fatigue, mild fever, stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, and a worsening cough. An ear or sinus infection might also develop. For most people who catch chlamydia pneumoniae independently of other conditions, this is the extent of the symptoms. Though medical advice is sometimes sought, the disease usually clears up on its own and can even produce no symptoms over its entire course.

However, chlamydia pneumoniae can become deadly if it’s paired with other diseases, like Lyme or its other co-infections. It can also be severe on its own if it migrates to other parts of the body. In these cases, it can infect the liver, brain, eyes, and vascular cells. Numerous complications, some of them fatal, can ensue from this kind of infection. There is also an aspect of the bacteria that makes it particularly dangerous for Lyme patients: chlamydia pneumoniae has been linked to the development of arthritis. It can infect the nervous system and cause a wide range of motor neuron problems. One of the most prominent symptoms of chronic Lyme is joint pain and muscle aches. These two infections can compound each other, worsening symptoms for patients.

The toxins that chlamydia pneumoniae produces can also hamper the immune system. Chronic Lyme symptoms are produced by an immune response running haywire, as it overreacts to the continued presence of Borrelia burgdorferi. The immune system is in a particularly precarious state, so any co-infection is going to have an easier time spreading itself around the body and flourishing as it does. This is when a disease like chlamydia pneumoniae becomes dangerous. Faced alone, the immune system could usually stem the flow with no issues. But combined with Lyme or other infections, the bacteria are afforded the opportunity to run rampant.

Infectolab - blood test
Chlamydia pneumoniae can be difficult to diagnose, but blood tests can be used as a primary indicator.

Chlamydia pneumoniae can be tough to diagnose initially, especially if there are minimal or no symptoms, but there are multiple ways of going about it. Blood tests will show whether specific antibodies are present, indicating the disease. Swabs from the nose and throat can be tested, and the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) can also be utilized. When considering a Lyme diagnosis, it is crucial that all potential co-infections are tested for and addressed simultaneously. Antibiotics are used for treatment, but it is vital that the inflammation symptoms of chronic Lyme are also considered. Any treatment must be administered effectively until all instances of chlamydia pneumoniae are eradicated, and the risk of reinfection is nil.

Lyme disease is not only dangerous in and of itself, but dangerous in the way that it allows other infections to run riot in the body, and ultimately become much more damaging than they would be solo. This is a crucial element of Lyme, but it is one that is understudied and not well understood. Most doctors barely understand the true nature of Lyme itself, never mind the spectrum of co-infections that accompany it. Chlamydia pneumoniae, among numerous other infections, should be considered every bit as problematic as Lyme disease when it accompanies it into the bloodstream.

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