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Infectolab - tick

Is Coxsackie Virus A Lyme Co-Infection?

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.

Infectolab - Lyme disease tick
Image by Catkin on Pixabay: Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the borrelia bacteria.

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
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • 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
  • Rash

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:

  • Babesia
  • Bartonella
  • Rickettsia
  • Anaplasmosis

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.

Infectolab - child doctor
Image by Jarmoluk on Pixabay: Coxsackie virus is often diagnosed through physical examination.

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

Infectolab - diet and lifestyle

5 Diet And Lifestyle Changes That Help Boost Immunity In Patients With Chronic Disease

Having a chronic disease can often feel debilitating. Getting through the day can be an uphill battle when you feel as though your body is playing on the opposite team, but there are things that can be done to help ease symptoms. Chronic illnesses can range in severity, but they all have one thing in common: they stick around for the long run. Dealing with a constant illness can be exhausting, and that constant fatigue can lead to a lowered immune response in the body.

Those with chronic diseases often suffer from such a lowered immune response, and when the immune system isn’t functioning properly, it can create a wide array of other symptoms that aren’t attributed to the specific chronic ailment the person is suffering from – such as widespread inflammation, frequent or recurring infection, and digestive problems. This doesn’t have to be an accepted way of life for everyone suffering from chronic illness, though. The first step in managing the symptoms of your chronic illness is to boost immunity.

What boosts immunity?

The immune system is the part of the body that controls the response to infection and sends signals to help ward off further infection. It protects the body against outside threats such as bacteria and viruses. When the immune system isn’t running at optimal levels, viruses and other harmful things can infiltrate the body’s systems more easily and cause damage that may not occur in someone with a healthier immune function.

For those with chronic illness, it’s a lot harder to keep the immune system on the up and up, but it’s not impossible. Things that can help naturally boost the immune system, even in those with compromised immunity, include avoiding smoking, eating a diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals, getting regular exercise, avoiding alcohol, and getting a good night’s sleep.

Infectolab - exercise
Image by Jenny Hill on Unsplash: Getting enough exercise can help increase immune function and encourage the healthy response of antibodies.

What foods will boost my immune system?

When taking the diet approach to boosting the immune system, there are plenty of foods (most often fruits and vegetables) that will get things running smoothly. Introducing citrus fruits into the diet, for example, will help boost vitamin C levels, which will increase the production of cells designed to help fight off infections. Other foods high in vitamin C include red bell peppers, spinach, and papaya.

Another mineral that is required for healthy immune function is zinc. Zinc helps the body to fight off infections and is also required to make DNA and proteins, which aid in proper development and function. Foods that are high in zinc include meat, shellfish, chickpeas, beans, nuts, and wholegrain foods.

Some other foods that include immunity-boosting minerals and vitamins are ginger, which is jam-packed with anti-inflammatory properties; almonds, which are full of vitamin E (an antioxidant); and green tea, which is packed with epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) – an antioxidant that has been known to reduce inflammation and boost the function of the immune system.

When getting enough vitamins and minerals through diet alone isn’t possible, choosing the right supplement is key in boosting immune function. Supplements should be chosen based on ingredients, dosage, and cost. When it comes to the dosage, speaking with your doctor will be a good starting point when choosing the right amount of each supplement you need to help manage chronic illness and boost immune function.

What changes could you make in your lifestyle to strengthen and protect your immune system?

The best lifestyle change (which also may be the hardest to accomplish) is getting a good sleep at the end of every day. During sleep, the body repairs muscles and tissues and synthesizes hormones. This is important for immune function, ensuring the muscles and tissues are healthy and the hormone levels in the body are where they’re supposed to be. 

Exercise also plays a huge role in the function of the immune system. For those who suffer from chronic disease, even the lightest of exercise might be a feat in and of itself, but it’s important to get as much exercise as possible to help boost the immune system’s abilities to fight off further infection and combat chronic illness. Even just going for a walk can cause changes in antibodies and white blood cells, both of which are designed to fight off further infection. Cardiovascular exercise in particular has been proven to help rid the lungs and airways of certain bacteria, which lessens the risk of getting a cold, flu or similar infection.

What can I do to boost my immunity?

Along with the aforementioned tips of eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, getting the appropriate amount of sleep, and exercising, there are other things that can be incorporated into your lifestyle to help boost your immunity. Lowering stress, for example, can contribute greatly to the battle against chronic disease and decreased immune function. Participating in activities such as meditation, or even just the simple act of laughing, can reduce levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for keeping stress levels in check.

Infectolab - lifestyle
Image by Laura Pratt on Unsplash: Sitting in the sun for just a half-hour per day can greatly increase immune function because of the vitamin D you’ll absorb from the rays.

Vitamin D is also a contributing vitamin in the immune response as it acts as a modulator. Vitamin D can be found in some foods such as fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks, and other dairy products, but a simple way to get a good level of vitamin D is by simply enjoying the sunshine. As little as 30 minutes per day of sunlight can help you get all the vitamin D you need to help your body and immune system run properly and efficiently.

Featured image by Heather Barnes on Unsplash

Infectolab - nutrition

Why Good Nutrition Is Essential In Those Suffering From Chronic Disease

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be hard to eat a balanced diet. Between not having enough time to cook healthy meals, the convenience of takeaway, and heavily processed food items taking center stage on grocery store shelves, maintaining a well-balanced diet can be a difficult thing to accomplish. However, it is possible to continue living virtually the same lifestyle while also getting all the whole foods your body needs to keep it running at its best.

For those who have been diagnosed with chronic disease, a well-balanced diet is that much more important. In fact, eating properly while dealing with chronic health issues is an essential part of managing the disease and the often debilitating symptoms it causes. A well-balanced diet consists of essential vitamins and nutrients, wholegrains, and dairy or dairy alternatives. Getting at least five servings of fruit and vegetables, along with high-fiber foods and foods that provide enough protein and carbohydrates, is what it takes to eat well and feel better.

How does nutrition affect chronic disease?

That old saying, “You are what you eat”, became a cliché for a reason. It’s true: what you put into your body is directly responsible for how it functions on a daily basis. In the case of chronic disease, the saying holds even more weight, because nutrition can be one of the most basic ways to combat further complications from the disease. When someone with a chronic illness isn’t following a healthy diet, it can lead to further inflammation, obesity, lack of energy, and the worsening of immune function.

Because of this, having a chronic disease in conjunction with a poor diet can lead to other ailments that could be avoided. Certain foods can also assist in repairing or increasing the body’s immune response, which in turn could help the symptoms of a chronic illness go into remission or become more easily dealt with.

Why is nutrition essential for treating chronic disease?

As mentioned above, good nutrition is important for the overall function of the body. When it comes to certain chronic illnesses, symptoms can be worsened or even directly triggered by giving the body too much of what it doesn’t need and too little of what it does. For example, if someone is suffering from a chronic illness that causes widespread inflammation and their diet is heavy in foods that lead to inflammation such as sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods, this will make their symptoms and illness worse.

When diet isn’t in check, battling or improving a chronic illness is next to impossible. The treatment of most chronic illnesses will require medication to manage the specific ailment or the symptoms it causes, but having a well-balanced diet is the boost the medication needs to encourage better overall function of the body as a whole.

Infectolab - diet
Image by Katie Smith on Unsplash: Treating chronic disease starts from the inside. 

How does a healthy diet reduce the risk of chronic disease?

Some chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, could be prevented through healthy living. According to the World Health Organization, a number close to 80% of all chronic diseases that fall under the aforementioned categories could be prevented. In taking control of your diet, you can give your body a fighting chance to get back to well and away from symptoms of your chronic ailments.

In some cases, certain chronic diseases can even be reversed, or the symptoms lessened to almost nonexistent levels, when a well-balanced diet is introduced and stuck with. When treating chronic diseases, eating properly plays a pivotal role in whether or not the treatment will be effective or not, because often the treatment alone isn’t enough if a person continues to consume foods that exacerbate their symptoms.

How diet affects your immune system

The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against viruses, bacteria, and any other harmful invaders that would otherwise wreak havoc on the body and its systems. When a diet is full of things that don’t contribute to the overall healthy function of the body, it can cause the immune system to malfunction, which in turn leads to further symptoms of chronic disease and a less apt defense system against new illnesses.

When the body has too much of a bad thing – sugar, for example – it can actually lead to immune cells becoming dormant, lowering their ability to attack bacteria and virus cells effectively. This suppression of immune function can be a contributing factor in developing or worsening chronic disease in those who are not eating healthily.

Essential vitamins and minerals and where to find them

The best way to increase immune function in those who suffer from chronic illness is by introducing essential vitamins and minerals through diet. The most essential include vitamin C, B, D, and E; folic acid; iron; selenium; and zinc. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, but is also found in high amounts in red bell peppers and spinach. Vitamin B can be best ingested through wholegrains such as brown rice and millet; red meat; milk and cheese; and dark leafy greens, including spinach and broccoli. Vitamin D is a bit easier to get, as it comes naturally from the sun’s rays, but it can also be found in fish, beef liver, and egg yolks. High amounts of Vitamin E can be found in nuts such as almonds, seeds such as sunflower seeds, and vegetable oils.

Infectolab - healthy food
Image by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash: Mixing up your diet to include all the necessary vitamins and minerals will help you in your management of chronic illness.

As for minerals, folic acid comes in high amounts in leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits, while iron is generally easier to consume through organ meats, shellfish, red meat, and turkey. When it comes to getting a good amount of selenium, eating seafood and white meat is the best bet. Finally, when you need to up your zinc intake, eating beef, egg yolks, and dark chocolate will help you get to the recommended amount.

Featured image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Infectolab - coxsackie virus

What Are The Symptoms Of Coxsackie Virus?

There are many different types of viruses circling the globe at any given time. A virus is categorized as a microscopic parasite that, when it attaches to or gets into a host, can wreak havoc on the host’s body and cause ailments ranging from mild to severe, and sometimes even death.

Viruses are broken up into groups using the Baltimore classification method, which categorizes the them depending on their morphology, genetics, and how the mRNA is made during replication. The Coxsackie virus is classified into a group of viruses called the enterovirus. So what is Coxsackie virus, exactly? And what are the symptoms of Coxsackie virus?

What is Coxsackie virus?

The Coxsackie virus is an RNA virus that leads to the disease of the lungs, heart, and muscles in severe cases, and can also lead to hand, foot, and mouth disease. It is generally found in children and tends to be a brief and mild virus, meaning that it rarely requires heavy treatment due to its self-limitation.

The virus contains only one strand of ribonucleic acid (RNA), and is part of the picornavirus family because of its small size. The virus was first documented in the late 1940s in Coxsackie, New York, and the virus itself is split up into two groups: A and B.

The A group tends to be the more severe version of the virus, while the B group tends to stay mild. Coxsackie virus is contagious, although it is mainly transmitted through fecal-oral contact, making the risk of contagion fairly low in places with good sanitary practices.

What are the symptoms of Coxsackie virus?

The main symptoms of Coxsackie virus are:

  • fever (similar to many other viruses)
  • lowered appetite
  • sore throat and cough
  • respiratory distress
  • a general feeling of tiredness.

These main symptoms often occur shortly after the virus is transmitted, specifically no more than a few days, and are generally followed by blisters in the mouth. These symptoms can then turn into a painful and itchy rash on the palms of the hands and bottom of the feet as the virus progresses.

When the Coxsackie virus gets into the body, it attaches itself to host cells, breaking them open. This destruction of the cells leads to an imbalance in osmosis. When this occurs, the proteins and DNA in the cells are then left out in the open. This causes the body’s immune system to respond to the threat, creating a chain reaction on a cellular level. When the immune system goes into overdrive, it sends out attacker cells to help rid the body of the virus, which has a detrimental impact on the body as a whole.

Infectolab - fever
Image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash: How do you test for Coxsackie virus, and what symptoms do doctors look for?

How do you test for Coxsackie virus?

Testing for Coxsackie virus can be hard thing to do, but the most widely used method in diagnosing a Coxsackie infection is visual examination. A doctor will examine the patient’s sores, blisters, and rash to determine whether they indicate Coxsackie virus.

This method, although useful, isn’t always the most effective way to test for the virus, especially if it spreads through a community. When such spread occurs, viral tests such as Infectolab’s ELISA test can be administered.

The ELISA test is an FDA-cleared test that is designed to look for certain viruses within the sample. These tests are far more accurate than visual examinations, as they can single out the virus in the infected patient even after they’ve rid themselves of the virus and its symptoms. Since most cases of Coxsackie clear up on their own, it can be hard to determine if someone has had the infection or is carrying the infection by visual exam alone.  

What is the treatment for Coxsackie virus?

As mentioned above, Coxsackie virus tends to be mild and clears up on its own by the tenth day. Treatment for the symptoms of the virus often come in over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, which dulls any pain that goes along with the blisters and sores and helps to reduce the fever that is brought on by the virus.

For the rash and blisters, some allergy medications such as Benadryl can be used to help curb discomfort, and mouthwash or oral disinfectant sprays can help to ease the pain of ulcers in the mouth.

Since there is no formal treatment or vaccine for Coxsackie virus available, the only way to treat it is to wait it out and deal with the symptoms that cause discomfort during infection. In the most serious of cases, antivirals may be used to lessen the risk of cognitive or heart symptoms.

Infectolab - child
Image by Caleb Woods on Unsplash: Does Coxsackie make you hungry? Studies show it can actually do the opposite.

Does Coxsackie make you tired?

Often accompanied by the other more visible symptoms, a general feeling of tiredness may be experienced during a Coxsackie virus infection. This is likely caused by the body’s immune response and the battle going on a cellular level.

Other less common symptoms of the virus include:

  • dehydration
  • nausea (often paired with problems with appetite, or a complete loss of appetite)
  • abdominal pain and discomfort
  • muscle aches

These less common symptoms are treated in the same way as the other symptoms: with over-the-counter medications to help ease symptoms so the body can fight off the infection on its own.

Featured image by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Infectolab - SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

How Serology Testing For SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Could Lead To A Prophylactic For First Line Responders

Since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the first step in slowing the spread of the virus has been containment. Agencies and governments across the world limited or halted all travel, and quarantined or put areas in lockdown where the virus was found to be spreading. This practice of containment doesn’t work across the board, however – more needs to be done.

Continue reading “How Serology Testing For SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Could Lead To A Prophylactic For First Line Responders”