Some diseases often go hand in hand because of the way they affect the body. When this occurs in a patient, it is referred to as a co-infection. Co-infections occur when two or more pathogens get into a cell and cause infection.
In the case of Lyme disease, many other infections can occur when one becomes infected with the Borrelia bacteria (the bacteria that causes Lyme). This is because diseased ticks are often infected with more than just one type of bacteria at a time. For example, if a person becomes infected from a tick that has Borrelia as well as anaplasmosis, the severity of Lyme disease can worsen and it can lead to a more difficult positive diagnosis.
But when it comes to the Coxsackie virus, is it a Lyme disease co-infection? Let’s take a look at what Coxsackie virus is, and if it relates to Lyme disease.
Is Coxsackie virus a tick-borne disease?
The Coxsackie virus is an enterovirus that is transmitted through fecal-oral contact. It is not generally considered a tick-borne disease because it can be transmitted through other routes, including fecal-oral, or oral ingestion of air droplets.
The virus has two different types: Type A and B. Type A leads to hand, foot, and mouth disease and can generally be found in children. The severity of Type A infections often vary, but they tend to be mild and clear up on their own within two weeks.
Type B infections also often resolve on their own within two weeks, but come with different symptoms such as fever, lung problems, and headache. In rare and serious cases, both Type A and B Coxsackie viruses can lead to meningitis, myocarditis, and pericarditis.
Coxsackie virus and Lyme disease
Although Coxsackie virus and Lyme disease are not the same thing, they can both be transmitted via tick bite. Ticks often carry more than one disease, and when a person is bitten by an infected tick, they are then given all the bacteria that single tick was holding onto. Both Coxsackie and Lyme can be contracted by ticks, but only Lyme disease is caused solely by tick bites.
The two diseases can present themselves similarly to one another, making it hard to diagnose whether or not a person is infected with Coxsackie, Lyme, or both. Coxsackie virus is considered to be a Lyme co-infection because those with Lyme disease are often also diagnosed with Coxsackie.
Can Lyme disease be misdiagnosed as Coxsackie virus?
Lyme disease symptoms range in severity depending on the length of the infection, whether or not it has progressed to the chronic stage, and how a person responds to treatment. Although it is extremely difficult to rid the body of Lyme disease completely, it can go into remission after treatment, even if other symptoms remain with a patient long after the antibiotics course.
Symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Bulls-eye like rash at the bite site
- Muscle and joint pain
- Cognitive disfunction
- Neurological issues such as meningitis and Bell’s palsy
Although Coxsackie virus doesn’t present in exactly the same way, it does often lead to symptoms such as:
- Painful blisters and sores on the hands and feet, and in the mouth
- Sore throat
- Gastrointestinal upset
In more serious cases of Coxsackie virus, meningitis and encephalitis are not uncommon. Weakness and paralysis are also often found in those suffering from the most severe cases of Coxsackie virus. These severe symptoms can often lead to a misdiagnosis of both Lyme and Coxsackie, because they can present as one and the same.
What causes air hunger in Lyme disease?
There are other co-infections that can occur in those infected with Lyme disease. They include:
In the specific case of babesia, a certain symptom called “air hunger” can occur. Air hunger is the feeling of being hungry for air, caused by the body’s lack of oxygen and need for more air in the bloodstream. This symptom is not usually present in those who suffer from a Coxsackie-Lyme co-infection, but it’s still important to test for all possible co-infections if one is diagnosed with Lyme disease.
How do you test for Coxsackie virus?
Testing for Coxsackie virus is generally relaxed and often merely includes a simple physical examination. Because the virus presents itself with a rash, sores, and other obvious symptoms, it’s easy for doctors to determine the infection by simply looking at a patient and asking a few questions.
The problem with the physical examination to diagnose Coxsackie virus, though, is that those who have been infected but are no longer exhibiting symptoms may not receive the positive diagnosis they need.
This is when a more invasive test needs to be done, such as Infectolab’s ELISA test. The ELISA test is an enzyme immunoassay designed to look for specific antigens or antibodies to determine whether an infection has occurred. These tests are highly accurate and can diagnose a patient based on whether the infection occurred in their body at any time in the past, as opposed to only during the examination.
How to treat Coxsackie virus
To treat Coxsackie virus, no specific medication is required. Because viral diseases don’t respond to antibiotics, most treatment plans consist of over-the-counter medication to help curb symptoms until the virus has been eradicated from the body. In the case of Lyme disease, antibiotics need to be administered to help the body rid itself of the Borrelia bacteria.
If you have both Lyme disease and Coxsackie virus, treatment becomes a little different. You will need to take antibiotics as well as over-the-counter medications to help with symptoms. Uncomfortable symptoms may feel worse because of the co-infection, but dual treatment is the best bet to rid yourself of the bacteria and virus and get back to normal.
Featured image by Erik Karits on Pixabay