Archive for the ‘Mycoplasma’ Category

Lyme Disease, Mycoplasma, and Bioweapons Development Timeline

Lyme Disease, Mycoplasma, and Bioweapons Development Timeline

By Edward Morgan


The following timeline will put forward mounting evidence of a Biological Warfare activity involving many different forms of chronic disease, especially Lyme disease and tick-borne diseases. This is a lengthy timeline with dozens upon dozens of documents, published medical journals, news articles, FOIA requested information papers like declassified files and email correspondence between public health officials, congressional hearings, science data, and more, compiled over many years that I have put together in one place. The evidence I put forward in this timeline, I believe, will show beyond a reasonable doubt that much of the chronic illnesses we are experiencing today are the result of poor safety practices and gross negligence in developing weaponized diseases for military & biodefense purposes, and  an ongoing cover-up has ensued to hide [it].

*blue text = link to document or article

1921 – Research for the Army yielding RELAPSING FEVER IN PANAMA: THE HUMAN TICK, ORNITHODOROS TALAJE, DEMONSTRATED TO BE THE TRANSMITTING AGENT OF RELAPSING FEVER IN PANAMA BY HUMAN EXPERIMENTATION with voluntary human experiments involving ticks and relapsing fever spirochete by the Army in Panama. This is just the beginning of a long and drawn-out relationship between spirochetes, ticks, and the military developing stealth organisms as bioweapons geared to slowly incapacitate and overwhelm a suggested target. Now, at this time the intention may have been benign, but eventually this whole area of work would become much more sinister as time went on.

1931 – Dr. Cornelius Rhoads, acting under the cover of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations, writes a letter to a colleague bragging about inducing cancer in Puerto Rican citizens during experiments, killing them. Among some of his words in this letter state “The Porto Ricans (sic) are the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever to inhabit this sphere… I have done my best to further the process of extermination by killing off eight and transplanting cancer into several more… All physicians take delight in the abuse and torture of the unfortunate subjects.”

As for Dr. Rhoads’ confession, he denied the reality of this horrendous act on the great people of Puerto Rico, saying he only wrote it when he was angry. He would later establish Biological Warfare facilities for the U.S. Army in Maryland, Utah, and Panama, and he was put on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. where he would go on to conduct radiation experiments on innocent, unwitting citizens. This is the start of a very long and consistent practice of experimentation on unwitting citizens and illegal testing programs that would continue unhindered right up to the present day.

1932 – The federal government begins a long-term research study known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment where African-Americans are left untreated for syphilis, even after they had a cure. Some were even intentionally infected with Syphilis through vaccines so that their research could be conducted over 40 years time. The initial study was only supposed to last for six months, but illegally continued for another forty years, Although there were a few survivors, the study was complete after most of the test subjects died. (Tuskegee Timeline from CDC Website)

This will establish that compartmentalized groups of the government have no problem in using its own citizens as guinea pigs and giving them harmful diseases just to see how it affects them, even when it can cause death.

This will also establish a type of behavior would become more prevalent as time went on, especially in our bioweapons development programs. It will also show you how many times a supposedly benign program or research project is used to cause harm and deceive the public. 

1942 – Canada enters into a secret agreement with Britain and the United States to participate in a program to develop biological weapons. The principal diseases used as starting points included anthrax and brucellosis.*

1943-44 – The Americans, collaborating with the British had developed the first biological bomb, code named ‘N’, containing anthrax spores. In May of 1944, an initial 5,000 anthrax bombs rolled off the production line at [Fort] Detrick. and within two months production of the bombs was taken over by an undisclosed factory with a higher capacity for production.**

1945 –  At the end of World War II the Russians captured twelve Japanese biological laboratories and notified the U.S. that the Japanese had been engaging in biological weapons testing using human beings [This was known as Unit 731]. At least 3,000 American, Chinese, Korean, Australian, and Russian prisoners of war died from the experiments. The Americans also captured Japanese chemical-biological warfare scientists, many of whom had participated in murderous experimentation against American prisoners of war. Some of the experiments were carried out on the Chinese in Manchuria, and used bombs full of fleas infected by typhus and the plague. (Declassified Document 1Declassified Document 2) (News National Service Article)

“The experiments the Japanese conducted were as horrific as any attributed to the Nazis, but the Americans saw the potential of utilizing their research and offered them immunity from prosecution in exchange for their participation in American programs. 

Not only did the American military protect Japanese scientists who had participated in biological warfare experiments that had resulted in the death of American soldiers, in a move that later foreshadowed later government coverups, the Army denied that there had ever been such experiments. Despite the reports of many American prisoners of war in Japanese internment camps, spokesmen for the Army denied that documentation existed to prove these programs had never existed.” **

Several unusual biological agents were studied by Unit 731 before testing on prisoners of war, of bacterial and viral origins, Borrelia sp.  is said to be among that list. 

1945 – At the end of the war the Agreement was continued into peacetime due to a perceived Communist threat. U.S. hires principal German and Japanese biowarfare researchers, including Dr. Ishii Shiro who had used allied prisoners to test anthrax and had conducted tests of a ‘mystery’ disease agent in the heartland of New Guinea.*

1946 – Dr. George Merck, head of the biological research in the U.S. reported in a secret memo that his researchers had learned how to extract the disease toxin from bacteria in a crystalline form suitable for aerosol diffusion.*

1948 – CONTAMINATION OF CAMP DETRICK LAB WORKERS – A report from the New England Journal of Medicine, 1947, Vol. 236, p.741 called “Acute Brucellosis Among Laboratory Workers” shows us how actively dangerous this agent is. The laboratory workers were from Camp Detrick, Frederick, Maryland where they were developing biological weapons. Even though these laboratory workers had been vaccinated, wore rubberized suits and masks, and worked through holes in the compartment, many of them came down with this awful disease because it is so absolutely and terrifyingly infectious. The article was written by Lt. Calderone Howell, Marine Corps, Captain Edward Miller, Marine Corps, Lt. Emily Kelly, United States Naval Reserve and Captain Henry Bookman. They were all military personnel engaged in making the disease agent brucellosis into a more effective biological weapon.*

1949 –  Post-WWII when the remaining Nazis were surrendered to American, British, and Russian forces, the American government took in hundreds of Nazi war criminals to work for American interests in OPERATION PAPERCLIP, bringing Erich Traub, former Nazi scientist in the SS under Heinrich Himmler, over to American shores to continue similar research for the U.S. military as a specialist in zoonotic disease who studied in America at the Rockefeller Institute before World War II, and then in Germany, he was a top SS officer conducting biowarfare research, when he came to America he was working for the Army’s joint lab at Plum Island conducting bioweapons research in the guise of Animal Disease Research under the Department of Agriculture. He was offered a chance to stay in America before World War II began, but chose to return citing his loyalty to the Nazi Party. (FOIA Files on Erich Traub)

Dr. Traub was not a low-level Nazi player by any means, but in fact, he was a high-ranking SS officerduring Nazi Germany. To illustrate his place in the hierarchy- Adolf Hitler was the party leader. Under Hitler, Heinrich Himmler headed the SS. Among several under Himmler in, there was Reich Health Leader Leonardo Conti, and under him, Kurt Blome was the head of the Nazi’s Biowarfare program. Under Blome, was Erich Traub- 4th in the chain-of-command to Hitler.

In Annie Jacobson’s Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America, Dr. Traub is described as a rather hostile, unfriendly individual who enjoyed being cruel to animals:

“…Dr. Little, described Traub as a “domineering German and a surly type of individual with a violent temper.” Another colleague, Dr. John Nelson found that despite long training in the care of animals, [Traub] went out of his way to be cruel to animals.”

 Traub was also part of an FBI investigation in 1942 where there were large 1000 gallon gas tanks being installed underground on a farm residence next to Frank DuPont. A man said to be a Dr. Eugene Traub from New York. But there is a possibility this may have actually been Erich Traub, since he did work with animals and the USDA, studied at the Rockefeller institute, would have probably known Frank DuPont, and possibly had a summer home in America even while working for the Nazis, as they welcomed him before and after the war.

His wife Blanka Traub was granted citizenship in the early 1950’s

In John Loftus’ America’s Nazi Secret, this former DOJ Special Investigator found files on Erich Traub that show he was engaged in using ticks as a medium to spread disease:

“Even more disturbing are the records of the Nazi germ warfare scientists who came to America. They experimented with poison ticks dropped from planes to spread rare diseases. I received some information suggesting that the U.S. tested some of these poison ticks on the Plum Island artillery range off the coast of Connecticut during the early 1950’s. I explored the old spies’ hypothesis that the poison ticks were the source of the Lyme Disease spirochetes, and that migrating waterfowl were the vectors that carried the ticks from Plum Island all up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Most of the germ warfare records have been shredded, but there is a top-secret U.S. document confirming that “clandestine attacks on crops and animals” took place at this time. The Lyme Disease outbreak in America was monitored secretly under the cover of a New England health study.

Sooner or later the whole truth will come out, but probably not in my lifetime. Years from now historians will have to put the secret files into context of events, a job akin to pasting dead leaves back on a tree in the right order…”

In Michael Carroll’s Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory he details some of the tests going on around the United States and may give a clue as to what Erich Traub was doing on Plum Island:

“At least six outdoor stockyard tests occurred in 1964-65. Stimulants were sprayed into stockyards in Fort Worth, Kansas City, St. Paul, Sioux Falls, and Omaha in tests determining how much foot-and-mouth disease virus would be required to destroy the food supply.   

(See link for article)



The chronology shows Plum Island research conducted research into reactivating latent viruses, a characteristic of OspA – a fungal antigen which is a lipoprotein found on Bb and is a related component of Mycoplasma.

The Nicolson’s finally prevailed and their work on Mycoplasma was recognized.  The treatment for it is antibiotics.


Part 2 of “ Lyme Disease, Mycoplasma, and Bioweapons Development Timeline “

. . . continues from the “ part 1 “ :

Part 2 of “ Lyme Disease, Mycoplasma, and Bioweapons Development Timeline “, image #1

Following the lead of this group of physicians, a few State health departments have now begun to investigate, in a very threatening way, physicians who have more liberal views on Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment than they do. And indeed, I have to confess that today I feel that I am taking a personal risk, a large one, because I am stating these views publicly, for fear that I may suffer some repercussions despite the fact that many hundreds of physicians and many thousands of patients all over the world agree with what I am saying here today.

Full Hearing PDF

1993 – Dr. Garth Nicolson Ph.D., and his wife Dr. Nancy Nicolson Ph.D., told their story in PROJECT DAY LILY conducting research at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX on this unknown illness affecting so many soldiers, many of whom were top military personnel, and found that most of them had been infected by a biological agent known as Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus as well as Brucella, Coxiella, and others similar to Borrelia burgdorferi – Lyme Disease. Many of them had multiple overlapping infections.

For their research Dr. Nicolson & his wife were both met with harsh criticism and extreme resistance from the cancer center administration and a handful of colleagues. They even endured several attempts on their lives by poisonings and exposure to deadly pathogens. Dr. Nicolson and his wife would pay a big price in academic endeavors, akin to an actor or artist being blackballed by Hollywood or the music industry for not ‘playing ball’, all for wanting to help the great men and women of our military.

Dr. Nicolson was eventually fired for his work on Mycoplasma by Dr. Charles LeMaistre, the head of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. In an article by the Houston Press, more was revealed. According to Dr. Nicolson, the reason why LeMaistre wanted the Nicolsons to stop their work was because he was directly involved in the problem. Dr. Charles Lemaistre has strong connections to the Bush family, James Baker III, the Carlyle Group, and the biotech company involved in making vaccinesfor the military- Tanox BioSystems Inc., founded by Nancy Chang, a microbiologist from Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. LeMaistre had a fairly big involvement, possibly through investments. Dr. Lemaistre is also well connected to people like Henry Kissinger and Nancy Chang also has connections to the Bush family, James Baker III and the Carlyle Group, the Chinese, as well asHenry Kissinger. Dr. Shyh Ching-Lo, the man who patented Pathogenic Mycoplasma, was also a member of Tanox BioSystems Inc. In the article by the Houston Press, Dr. Nicolson hints at these interests being directly involved in selling the Iraqis Biological weapons in the 80’s as well as creating the vaccines for troops. Of course, the news article goes well out of their way to make it sound like a conspiracy theory, but through sites like Relationship Science, you can clearly see just how connected all these folks are.

1994 – A town nearby Houston in Hunstville, TX experiences a rapid onset of cases of ALS, MS, and Chronic Illness with a number of deaths resulting. Dr. Nicholson starts research on testing and treating these individuals and find that most of them are infected with Mycoplasma fermentans incognituswhich had been patented by the Department of Defense and scientist Dr. Shyh Ching-Lo just a few years prior. A FOIA requested document reveals a whopping 42 deaths in one town in just a short period of time. It lists only 1 death from Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus. However, with the other deaths being listed as ALS, cancer, heart-related, or cause unknown, this can easily be attributed toMycoplasma, because these are all by-products of Mycoplasma infections.

At the time, it was suspected by Dr. Nicolson and a number of colleagues that the sudden illness was the result of illegal testing by Baylor College of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute in the Texas prison systems in the late 60’s and early 70’s research conducted through defense contracts in black programs that had now made its way into the community. In Project Day Lily, Dr. Nicolson alludes to having been confirmed correct in his assumption when years before the slain Air Force Col. had hinted to him that he was right on target with his work testing for and treating patients forMycoplasma fermentans incognitus. The research was conducted by the medical sector for the defense department and able to test on American citizens without legal punishment by using a loophole called Title 50 code 1520. This fell under War and National Defense: allowing tests on human subjects with chemical and biological agents. Although it had been repealed in 1997, the tests are still able to go on legally, due to a loophole wehereby the tests can be continued in times of War or National Emergency. We have been under some form of wartime or national emergency since the 70’s

1994 – Senator John D. Rockefeller issues a report revealing that for at least 50 years theDepartment of Defense has used hundreds of thousands of military personnel in human experiments and for intentional exposure to dangerous substances. Materials included mustard and nerve gas, ionizing radiation, psychochemicals, hallucinogens, and drugs used during the Gulf War.

1994 – Dearborne Conference – Yale Doctor & CDC Official Allen Steere puts forward his fraudulent shift narrowing Lyme Disease by changing the definition of the disease from a growing, relapsing fever disease that cannot be treated easily and hard to test for- to a small insignificant, rare disease that is easily cured with a round of antibiotics. He was referring to the 15% or so who made antibodies to fight the infection These cases were suffering from the same illness but able to respond due to their fortunate genetic predisposition- while the other majority face a devastating illness with immunosuppression- and not adequately fighting the infection.

Also changed are the testing standards making the cutoff levels more difficult to obtain positive results. Before where a positive only needed 3 bands for 41, Allen Steere & Co. raised the bar to 5 for 41 claiming it would more accurately pick up their ‘new definition’ of Lyme disease, or the 15% who make antibodies and the other 85% would be thrown into the ‘Social Phenomenon of Lyme’ fraudthat Alan Barbour and Durland Fish (former employees at Plum Island, University of Texas, NIH Rocky Mountains Bioweapons Lab) proposed in a fraudulent medical paper put out the previous year. The testing companies doing all the testing would be coming from the same criminals in their own companies- Corixa, Imugen, L2 Diagnostics of Yale- all of which Allen Steere and the many others involved in this scam were owners, partners, or employees of.

This sudden Lyme disease definition change was met with criticism by numerous attendees from labs all over the country attending the conference as it had previously been understood that this is a relapsing fever organism which can be highly complicated to treat and caused immunosuppressive outcomes in many of those cases leading to severe physical and neurological problems. A dangerous disease that can cause death and cancer-like outcomes. Contributors and attendees of the conference say Steere’s proposal ran about anywhere from an 8% to 22% accuracy rate. Even partner-in-crime Gary Wormser reported that this method missed up to 85% of cases. But they pushed it through anyway and it would become the standard for all medical centers and insurance company guidelines. And doctors from that point on would buy into the ‘Social Phenomenon of Lyme’ fraud that the 85%, who are much more sick, are only psychiatric cases and it is “all in their head” – Much like the Pentegon did just one year before with the Mycoplasma exposure on the Gulf War veterens, as well as the coverup on the Hunstville Mystery Illness resulting from illegal tests by the M.D. Cancer Center (through University of Texas and Baylor College of Medicine). Must be a coincidence…

It is also interesting to note that in Alan Barbour’s research paper Antibody-resistant Mutants of Borrelia bargdorferi: In Vitro Selection and Characterization, this research was carried out by Alan Barbour for the University of Texas, NIH, and NIAI, the same institutions that partnered with Baylor College of Medicine, to engage in the illegal Mycoplasma testing on the Texas prison system:

From the Departments of “Microbiology and *Medicine, University of Texas Health Science
Center, San Antonio Texas 78284; the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine,
232000 Vihius, Lithuania; and the Laboratory of Microbial Structure and Function, National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Hamilton, Montana

(See link for article)


For more:



Infection Strategies of Mycoplasmas: Unraveling the Panoply of Virulence Factors

Infection strategies of mycoplasmas: Unraveling the panoply of virulence factors

Free PMC article

Mycoplasmas, the smallest bacteria lacking a cell wall, can cause various diseases in both humans and animals. Mycoplasmas harbor a variety of virulence factors that enable them to overcome numerous barriers of entry into the host; using accessory proteins, mycoplasma adhesins can bind to the receptors or extracellular matrix of the host cell. Although the host immune system can eradicate the invading mycoplasma in most cases, a few sagacious mycoplasmas employ a series of invasion and immune escape strategies to ensure their continued survival within their hosts. For instance, capsular polysaccharides are crucial for anti-phagocytosis and immunomodulation. Invasive enzymes degrade reactive oxygen species, neutrophil extracellular traps, and immunoglobulins. Biofilm formation is important for establishing a persistent infection. During proliferation, successfully surviving mycoplasmas generate numerous metabolites, including hydrogen peroxide, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide; or secrete various exotoxins, such as community-acquired respiratory distress syndrome toxin, and hemolysins; and express various pathogenic enzymes, all of which have potent toxic effects on host cells. Furthermore, some inherent components of mycoplasmas, such as lipids, membrane lipoproteins, and even mycoplasma-generated superantigens, can exert a significant pathogenic impact on the host cells or the immune system. In this review, we describe the proposed virulence factors in the toolkit of notorious mycoplasmas to better understand the pathogenic features of these bacteria, along with their pathogenic mechanisms.

For more:

Hemotropic mycoplasma is caused by bacteria from the Mycoplasma genus, which lack a cell wall and are unable to replicate by themselves. To survive they have to infect red blood cells. Like the other bacteria discussed here, emerging species are found in bats. Hemotropic mycoplasma may be a co-factor in white nose syndrome, a fungal disease that is killing bats.

Does Lyme Increase Your Cancer Risk?

[Real Talk] Lyme Disease + Cancer: Does Borrelia Increase Your Cancer Risk?

by Dr. Bill Rawls
Posted 11/5/20

As to the question of, are microbes associated with cancer, the answer is a definitive, yes!

But what about the question, are all cancers associated with microbes? Here I’m referring to microscopic organisms including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi.

The answer? Well…maybe.

Here’s what the science is showing us thus far, including takeaways from a new study implicating borrelia — the microbe associated with Lyme disease — in breast cancer development, and how to empower yourself to reduce your risk.

The Science Linking Microbes + Cancer

Scientists first began proposing links between microbes and cancer back in the 1800s. In 1886, a researcher named Dr. Doyle isolated spherical bodies thought to be bacteria from a malignant tumor.

This was followed by a scientific paper published in 1907 by Dudgeon & Dunkley, which confirmed that the spherical bodies were a species of staphylococcus (a common skin flora that we all carry). Then, in 1911, a physician named Peyton Rouse, M.D. was able to demonstrate that a certain chicken sarcoma (tumors that occur in bones and soft tissue) was transmissible to other chickens. The transmissible agent was later found to be a virus.

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The earliest documentation of microbes associated with human cancer was in 1964 with the finding of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in a cancer of lymph nodes, called Burkitt’s lymphoma. Epstein-Barr virus is a common virus that most all of us get during childhood and that sometimes causes mononucleosis.

Since then, numerous cancers have been linked to microbes:

  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) with cancer of the stomach
  • Salmonella typhi with gallbladder cancer
  • Chlamydia pneumoniae with lung cancer
  • Streptococcus bovis with colon cancer
  • A variety of species of mycoplasma with a variety of different cancers
  • Multiple bacteria with oral cancers

This is, of course, only a partial list. In all, 20% of cancers have been directly linked to various microbes. No doubt, the percentage will steadily grow.

My earliest professional association with the microbe-cancer link was some 30 years ago, when human papillomavirus (HPV) was associated with cervical cancer in women. It totally changed how we screen for cervical cancer.

Women often, however, develop a precancerous state associated with HPV called dysplasia, which in some people never progresses to cancer. It has me wondering if there might be other cofactors involved, such as other microbes.

Ones that would be high on my list include mycoplasmas and ureaplasmas, which are much more common in the genital tract than currently recognized. Studies have shown that these bacteria can facilitate the entry of viruses into cells — it gives evidence that microbes often work together.

The microbe-cancer connection hit close to home several years ago when my father developed lymphoma of the eye shortly after being diagnosed with a toxoplasma infection in that eye. Toxoplasma is a protozoa, a single-celled microbe one step more advanced than a bacteria. It’s commonly contracted from cats or eating undercooked meat.

If a person’s immune system is healthy, toxoplasma typically lives inside cells and stays dormant in tissues without causing any symptoms. Its favorite hideout is the brain. In immunocompromised individuals, it’s been linked to cognitive deficits, depression, and psychosis. Sure enough, I was able to find research that documented an association between toxoplasma and the specific type of lymphoma my father developed.

Ever since my dad’s experience, I’ve been closely following the connections. Before his untimely death due to complications of Lyme disease, Neil Spector, M.D., a friend and oncology researcher at Duke University, mentioned that he was consistently finding bartonella, a common bacteria defined as a Lyme disease coinfection, in a certain type of breast cancer.

In May of 2020, in a study published in the journal Scienceresearchers found a distinct “tumor microbiome” consisting of intracellular bacteria in each of 1,526 different tumor specimens. The specimens were taken from seven different cancer types including breast, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, melanoma, bone, and brain cancers.

Most recently, an internationally recognized expert on Lyme disease, Eva Sapi, Ph.D., found borrelia in breast cancer tissueIn 400 specimens of the breast cancer tissue she examined, borrelia was found in a high percentage. Her team also found that borrelia readily invaded breast cancer cells in the lab.

Does this mean that borrelia is the cause of breast cancer? Not hardly. It simply means that microbes in general play a key role in the process of cancer formation. That role is actually not difficult to define.

Microbes’ Role in Cancer Development

The cells that make up our bodies and the microbes that inhabit our bodies live at cross purposes. It’s the difference between the unrestricted growth of microbes versus the restricted growth of our cells.

Microbes like bacteria know only one purpose: Making more bacteria. As long as food is present, bacteria are compelled to keep dividing and growing with no boundaries — dividing continuously is the only way they can survive.

Borrelia infection in the blood. Borrelia bacteria cause borreliose, transmitted by ticks and by lice.

The reason microbes like bacteria must continually divide is to shed internal damage and refresh themselves. When a bacterial cell divides, it regenerates into two new cells — damage to internal parts and the cell’s genetic program is shed, and the new cells start afresh. As soon as those two cells mature, they must also divide.

Most bacteria divide every 2 to 12 hours. Some are especially fast movers: E. coli in the gut, for example, can divide every 20 minutes, which means after 7 hours, one bacterium can become 2.1 million, according to the Microbiology Society.

This pattern of unrestricted growth applies to viruses, protozoa, and yeast, as well as bacteria. As long as nutrients and no other restrictions are present, they will continue to grow unimpeded.

In contrast, our cells are team players. They work in close synchrony with other cells within organ and tissue systems to enable the body to function as a whole.

We have about 200 different cell types, each with a different job. Muscle cells contract muscles. Brain cells transmit signals. Thyroid cells secrete thyroid hormones. Cells in the digestive system make enzymes to digest food. Every cell in the body is working for the good of all the other cells in the body — it’s definitely a one-for-all and all-for-one kind of arrangement.

As team players, our cells must work within the confines of an organ or tissue system. To be functional, organ or tissue systems can only accommodate a set number of cells (aka team players).

Though our cells can divide, they only divide to replace worn out or damaged cells. If the growth of cells became unrestricted like bacteria, the tissue or organ would quickly be destroyed. If that sounds a lot like cancer, you’re right on track.

Why Intracellular Microbes Are the Biggest Concern

Though most of the microbes that inhabit the body are confined to the gut or skin, microbes are constantly trying to get inside tissues of your body. The carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that make up your cells offer a treasure trove of nutrients that microbes can use to survive. Once inside your tissues, your cells offer an exceptionally good food source.

It was through my own experience with Lyme disease that I became acquainted with microbes that specialize in invading and living inside cells of a host. It’s a common strategy that microbes have been honing for billions of years.

By infecting and pirating organic molecules and resources from larger cells (the ultimate dine-in experience), these microbes can survive without having to work very hard. Living inside another cell offers the microbes food and protection from the immune system, other bacteria, and antibiotics.

blue microbes

The infected cell might be weakened, but might not die — at least initially. It’s an easy-living strategy used by many bacteria, some protozoa, yeast, and all viruses. Collectively, they are known as intracellular microbes or stealth microbes.

Borrelia burgdorferi is an intracellular microbe. All the Lyme disease coinfections, including bartonella, are intracellular. Toxoplasma is an intracellular protozoa. In fact, all the microbes that have been associated with cancer are intracellular.

There are many, many intracellular microbes. In my research I was able to identify more than 100 different species of intracellular microbes that could potentially be associated with chronic illness in humans — and that may be just scratching the surface.

The stealth microbe-cancer connection was taken a step further by a study published in 2018 in the journal, Cancer Cell International. The study was significant because researchers were able to experimentally induce cancer formation in eukaryotic cells (cells like ours) with intracellular bacteria.

For the experiment, they used a species of algae. They started by placing the algae cells in the dark, which weakened the cells. Then they exposed the weakened algae cells to an intracellular bacteria common to that species of algae.

In every case, when the bacteria invaded the weakened cells, the cells took on the unrestricted growth common to bacteria and turned to cancer. They were also able to demonstrate that the bacteria had inserted a segment of DNA into the cell’s genome that turned on unrestricted growth in the host cell.

How to Use This Information to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

The good news is that all of these findings bring us one step closer to understanding cancer. And if you understand something, you can do something about it! Knowing that intracellular microbes are a significant part of the problem brings us closer to a cancer solution.

A top priority is keeping the cells of your body healthy — weak cells are targets for microbes. Maintaining cell health puts less stress on the immune system. When the immune system isn’t overtaxed, it can better do its job of keeping the microbes that inhabit the body in check.

What can you do to keep your cells in top condition?

  • Provide optimal nourishment for your cells with a diet weighted heavily toward fresh vegetables and other fresh food sources.
  • Minimize your exposure to toxic substances. Toxins can only enter your body in what you eat or drink, the air you breathe, and what goes on your skin. Filtered water, organic food, purified indoor air, and smart choices for skin products go a long way to protect your cells.
  • Stress disrupts hormones and prevents cells from working together to stay healthy. Though you can’t eliminate all stress in your life, you can find ways to live around it. Make your world small, and focus only on the things that impact your wellbeing directly.
  • Cells depend on continual flow of water, nutrients, oxygen, and waste removal to stay healthy. Staying physically active increases blood flow, which flushes debris collected around cells and promotes optimal flow.

In the battle to keep your cells healthy, herbs are your best ally. The protective phytochemicals found in herbs suppress intracellular microbes, reduce cellular stress by protecting cells, and balance communication systems in the body so that all cells work together. Many herbs, if not most of them, have documented anti-cancer properties.

It’s a bit unnerving when you think about the fact that we all harbor microbes inside our cells that have the potential to affect our cells adversely. It’s important to note, however, that it’s stressed cells that are vulnerable.

Also key is that a healthy immune system is constantly on the job of taking out cells that have been infected with microbes or that have taken on the unrestricted growth associated with cancer. As such, your best defense against any type of cancer is a healthy immune system. Not stressing your cells is also a good practice.

immune rhodiola reishi cordyceps ashwagandha japanese knotweed cats claw

Keeping your cells and your immune system healthy is a matter of maintaining good health habits. That includes eating a fresh and mostly whole foods diet, minimizing the toxins in your environment, keeping stress down, and staying active.

Beyond good health habits, herbs have extensive value for keeping your immune system healthy. Herbs suppress intracellular microbes, reduce cellular stress by protecting cells, and balance communication systems in the body so that all cells work together.

When all the cells in the body are functioning properly and working together in harmony, good health happens — and cancer risk is low!

Dr. Rawls is a physician who overcame Lyme disease through natural herbal therapy. You can learn more about Lyme disease in Dr. Rawls’ new best selling book, Unlocking Lyme.
You can also learn about Dr. Rawls’ personal journey in overcoming Lyme disease and fibromyalgia in his popular blog post, My Chronic Lyme Journey.

1. Dudgeon LS, Dunkley EV. The Micrococcus neoformans: Its Cultural Characters and Pathogenicity and the Results of the Estimation of the Opsonic and Agglutinative Properties of the Serum of Patients Suffering from Malignant Disease on this Organism and on the Staphylococcus Albus. J Hyg (Lond). 1907;7(1):13-21. doi:10.1017/s002217240003309x
2. Rous P. A SARCOMA OF THE FOWL TRANSMISSIBLE BY AN AGENT SEPARABLE FROM THE TUMOR CELLS. J Exp Med. 1911;13(4):397-411. doi:10.1084/jem.13.4.397
3. Rowe M, Fitzsimmons L, Bell AI. Epstein-Barr virus and Burkitt lymphoma. Chin J Cancer. 2014;33(12):609-619. doi:10.5732/cjc.014.10190
4. Nejman D, Livyatan I, Fuks G, et al. The human tumor microbiome is composed of tumor type-specific intracellular bacteria. Science. 2020;368(6494):973‐980. doi:10.1126/science.aay9189
5. Dong, Q., Xing, X. Cancer cells arise from bacteria. Cancer Cell Int 18, 205 (2018).
6. Faden AA. The potential role of microbes in oncogenesis with particular emphasis on oral cancer. Saudi Med J. 2016;37(6):607-612. doi:10.15537/Smj.2016.6.14048
7. Hieken TJ, Chen J, Hoskin TL, Walther-Antonio M, Johnson S, Ramaker S, Xiao J, Radisky DC, Knutson KL, Kalari KR, Yao JZ, Baddour LM, Chia N, Degnim AC. The Microbiome of Aseptically Collected Human Breast Tissue in Benign and Malignant Disease. Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 3;6:30751. doi: 10.1038/srep30751. PMID: 27485780; PMCID: PMC4971513.
8. Meng S, Chen B, Yang J, Wang J, Zhu D, Meng Q, Zhang L. Study of Microbiomes in Aseptically Collected Samples of Human Breast Tissue Using Needle Biopsy and the Potential Role of in situ Tissue Microbiomes for Promoting Malignancy. Front Oncol. 2018 Aug 17;8:318. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2018.00318. PMID: 30175072; PMCID: PMC6107834.
9. Chmiel R, University of New Haven Professor Makes Great Strides in Lyme Disease, Cancer Research, Sept 15 2020, Office of Marketing and Communications, University of New Haven.
For more:

Mycoplasma Genitalium: A New Superbug

2022 Jan-Jun; 43(1): 1–12.
Published online 2022 Jun 7. doi: 10.4103/ijstd.ijstd_103_20
PMCID: PMC9282694
PMID: 35846530

Mycoplasma genitalium: A new superbug


Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is an emerging sexually transmitted pathogen. It is an important cause of nongonococcal urethritis in men and is associated with cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease in women, putting them at risk of infertility. Multiple factors that aid pathogenesis of MG include its ability of adhesion, gliding motility, and intracellular invasion by means of the tip organelle. Through intracellular localization and antigenic variation, MG could result in treatment-resistant chronic infection. There are limited data on the prevalence of MG in Indian patients with urogenital syndromes. Recently, a high prevalence of extra genital infection with MG has been reported. Molecular assays are the major diagnostic techniques of MG infection. Antimicrobial agents such as macrolides, along with fluoroquinolones, are the treatment of choice for MG infections. The issue of drug resistance to azithromycin and fluoroquinolones in MG is rising globally. As molecular tests are becoming available for MG, both for the diagnosis and the detection of antimicrobial resistance, any patient with MG infection should then be tested for antimicrobial resistance. Consideration of MG as a cause of sexually transmitted disease in the Indian population is crucial in diagnostic algorithms and treatment strategies. The purpose of this review is to understand the prevalence of MG in different clinical scenarios, molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis, current status of antimicrobial resistance, and its impact on MG treatment.


For more:

Complete Guide to Lyme Disease & Coinfection Tests

Dr. Rawls’ Complete Guide to Lyme Disease and Coinfection Tests

This is a newly updated excerpt taken from Dr. Rawls’ best-selling book Unlocking Lyme. This installment focuses on how reliable diagnostic testing is for Lyme disease and Lyme coinfections.

by Dr. Bill Rawls
Updated 3/1/21

An Introduction to Lab Testing

Lyme disease tests can serve as valuable resources for the diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne disease. But it’s important not to get too hung up on the results.

The problem of chronic Lyme disease, can’t be solved exclusively by looking at lab results, which is something I know from personal experience. In fact, becoming overly obsessed with lab results can hinder the recovery process.

Lab work provides a snapshot of what’s going on inside your body. But multiple other factors — including your symptoms, the length of time you’ve had them, and clinical presentation, as well as the environments in which you live, work, and travel — all factor into making an accurate diagnosis.

Furthermore, the human body is an immensely complex biological machine, with millions of different biochemical functions happening simultaneously. Lab tests provide an ever-so-small glimpse at certain key functions of different systems in the body. From those indicators, determinations can be made about how well the body is functioning and whether illness is present.

Laboratory assessment, however, is far from absolute. Because the human body is so complex, the ability of lab testing to predict a specific chronic illness, such as one from a tick-borne disease, is often limited. All labs are subject to variability and different interpretations.

There are literally thousands of different lab tests that can be performed, but only a fraction of them are well understood. Many should be left for research purposes only. Problems arise when doctors order obscure tests that are still poorly understood. Before you have labs drawn, ask your doctor to explain the purpose of each test and why they would be helpful in addressing your health situation.

The information provided by labs is only valuable if it is put to good use. Millions of dollars are wasted every year on labs, with the resulting information never used. Before you have labs drawn, ask yourself and your doctor: “Will the information from this lab — or any other diagnostic test — influence my approach to getting well?” If the answer is no, then you may want to reconsider having that particular test performed.

For chronic illnesses like chronic Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome, general lab evaluations are usually unremarkable. In these cases, the greatest value of labs is ruling out the possibility of a more threatening condition. Mildly abnormal labs generally return to normal as your health improves.

The following is a guide to the labs that I’ve found to be most valuable in evaluating chronic illnesses like chronic Lyme and fibromyalgia. It is, by no means, an absolute or exclusive list.

Basic Lab Tests Everyone Needs

side view of scientist writing down test results while working in laboratory

There are certain basic tests and a few specialized ones that have great value. These are the tests that everyone who suspects they have Lyme should consider getting. In addition to taking a detailed medical history, the following list of labs can be ordered by any healthcare provider. Typically, these tests are covered by health insurance.

Complete Blood Count (CBC with Differential)

This test measures cellular components of blood:

  • White Blood Cell count (WBC): Low WBC (< 4,000) can indicate chronic infection with a virus or low-virulence bacteria such as mycoplasma, but it can also occur in healthy people. Elevated WBC (>11,500) can indicate an active infection.
  • Differential (diff): This measures different types and ratios of white blood cells present. Sometimes, it can be helpful for defining a particular type of infection (bacteria vs. viral vs. parasite), but it is not always absolute.
  • Hemoglobin (Hb): Anemia is indicated by Hb < 12.0. Anemia can be caused by blood loss due to factors like heavy periods, inadequate production of red blood cells (RBCs), and increased destruction of RBCs from malaria, babesia, bartonella, or other infections. Hb levels > 16.0 can be associated with smoking, living at altitude, and excessive iron stores in the body (hemochromatosis).

Blood Chemistries

These are a measure of common chemical components of the body, including:

  • Electrolytes: Sodium, potassium, chloride, CO2; these are generally normal, unless you are really sick.
  • Liver function: Abnormal values suggest an elevated rate of liver compromise, possibly from toxins or viruses such as hepatitis. Elevated bilirubin suggests increased breakdown and turnover of red blood cells (babesia, bartonella). Certain low-virulence microbes (bartonella) destroy red blood cells.
  • Kidney function: BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and creatinine screen for kidney disease.

Glucose Metabolism

Excessive carbohydrate consumption is a major system disrupter that must be controlled before recovery is possible. Three primary tests — fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and fasting insulin — define insulin resistance and abnormal glucose metabolism:

  • Fasting blood glucose: Levels >100 mg/dl suggest pre-diabetes. Levels >126 mg/dl suggest overt diabetes.
  • Fasting insulin: Levels defined as elevated suggest insulin resistance (normal range varies depending on the lab). Insulin resistance is a factor contributing to immune dysfunction and hormone imbalances.
  • Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c): HbA1c measures the cumulative damage done by excessive carbohydrate consumption. Ideal is 4.8-5.2%. Levels > 5.6% indicate pre-diabetes. Levels > 6.4% indicate overt diabetes.


Magnesium and calcium are the primary minerals measured:

  • Magnesium: Magnesium levels are often low during chronic illness. Aggressive magnesium supplements, however, can often worsen Lyme symptoms. Generally, magnesium levels will return to normal as health improves.
  • Calcium: Persistently elevated calcium levels can indicate the presence of a small benign tumor producing excessive parathyroid hormone (PTH). Symptoms can mimic fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme. Follow-up testing should include PTH levels.

Thyroid Function

Complete thyroid function should include thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4, free T3, and thyroid antibodies. Illnesses associated with chronic immune dysfunction are commonly associated with abnormal thyroid function. Correcting abnormal thyroid function can accelerate recovery. Testing for thyroid antibodies (TPO and thyroglobulin) is important to identify Hashimoto’s disease, a form of autoimmune thyroid dysfunction.

Lipid Panel

This is a basic evaluation for cardiovascular risk. Cholesterol commonly increases with age and/or a decline in liver function. Cholesterol can be lowered by following specific nutritional guidelines. Significantly elevated cholesterol, however, should be addressed by your healthcare provider and may require medication.

Autoimmune Testing

Chronic immune dysfunction and stealth microbes like borrelia play a major role in autoimmunity. The type of autoimmune illness that occurs is related to the factors that disrupt immune function, the person’s genetics, and the spectrum of stealth microbes.

Though diagnosis of specific autoimmune illnesses is complex and requires extensive testing, basic screening for autoimmunity can be done with two tests:

  • Rheumatoid factor: A standard test, it reveals if severe arthritis is present
  • ANA titer: Positive in many types of autoimmune disease

C-Reactive Protein (CRP)

CRP is a measure of inflammation. It is probably more valuable for monitoring health habits than anything else. High levels (>10) correlate with poor health habits and increased risk of disease.

Normal CRP levels, however, are often present in individuals who follow good dietary habits and yet still suffer from a chronic illness.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is not only important for healthy bones, but also very important for normal immune function. There are several forms of vitamin D; calcidiol (25 OH vitamin D) is the most commonly measured form in blood tests.

Both normal ranges for blood levels of vitamin D and indications for supplementation are controversial, and various medical organizations and nonprofit groups don’t seem close to reaching a consensus just yet. For example, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) considers up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 a safe dosage for most adults. But the Endocrine Society suggests a safe dose for most adults can go all the way up to 10,000 IU.

With the differing viewpoints, how do you know what to do? For starters, know that levels of >40 ng/ml have been associated with reduced risk for many cancers and for chronic disease in general. And achieving consistent vitamin D levels of >40 ng/ml is also important for Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia recovery.

Ultimately, the best way to stay on top of your vitamin D levels is to work with your healthcare provider to determine which dose is right for you. Ideally, have your levels checked every six months.

Vitamin B12

Low B12 levels (normal ranges vary between labs) can be a sign of low intake (sometimes seen in vegetarians), but more commonly it’s a sign of inadequate absorption and gastric dysfunction. Vitamin B12 generally increases spontaneously with improved health habits, but in the short term, B12 injections or sublingual (under the tongue) supplements can improve energy levels. Activated forms like methylcobalamin or hydroxocobalamin of B12 are better absorbed orally than the more common inactive form, cyanocobalamin, used in most multivitamin products.


Ferritin measures iron stores. Low ferritin levels can indicate low stores of iron in the body, which can be associated with fatigue. High ferritin levels indicate abnormal retention of iron in the body (called hemochromatosis), which can be associated with liver damage and nonspecific symptoms. High levels can also be associated with autoimmunity and chronic infection.


Test strips for urine testing can be obtained online without a prescription. Here’s what they measure for:

  • pH: Urine pH should be consistently alkaline, reflecting high consumption of vegetables and fruit. A normal range is 4.5 to 7.8.
  • WBCs, nitrites: These tests show evidence of a urinary tract infection.
  • Protein: Elevated levels can indicate kidney disease.
  • Bilirubin: Elevated levels show increased turnover or destruction of red blood cells.

Mold and Mycotoxins

Evaluation for mold is indicated anytime there is any suspicion of mold. It is possibly the most important evaluation you can do. Mycotoxins (mold toxins) are potent immune disruptors and cause a wide spectrum of nonspecific symptoms, including a chronic inflammatory response, neurological symptoms, and persistent insomnia. If mold sensitivity is an issue, the only option for complete relief is eradicating mold from your environment.

The first step in evaluating for mold is using your nose and eyes to search for it. Moisture is necessary for mold to grow. Mold, however, can be hidden in walls, crawl spaces, attics, and more. It is possible to test for mold with simple kits that can be ordered online. It is also possible to test for mycotoxins in urine or the potential for mold exposure through blood tests. Ones that could potentially be useful include:

  • HLA-DR: This genetic blood test determines whether a person has the genes that trigger the immune system to properly recognize and excrete mycotoxins from the body.
  • C4a: C4a is a complement protein known as an anaphylatoxin, a substance that creates a response similar to an allergic reaction. It also executes tasks related to the immune system and inflammation. An elevated C4a may be present in individuals who have been exposed to mycotoxins. Note that C4a levels may also be elevated in patients with Lyme disease and lupus.
  • MSH (Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone): The hormone MSH is produced in the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. It regulates neuroimmune pathways, including melatonin, cortisol, cytokines, sex hormones, and the integrity of mucous membranes. Among mold patients who developed Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), 95% have decreased MSH functioning.
  • VCS (Visual Contrast Sensitivity): A VCS test measures your ability to detect changes in visual contrast, a function that may be impaired in individuals who have been exposed to biotoxins. The test is available online or can be completed in a doctor’s office.

However, with or without testing, the solution to a mold problem is completely avoiding mold. Testing may only be needed if you’re not getting better within weeks or months after complete elimination of the mold problem.

Advanced Laboratory Testing

Laboratory tests in glass flasks closeup. Chemical reagents in medical lab

The following tests are discussed because they are often recommended, but they seldom influence the status of recovery. These tests should be reserved for special circumstances or when recovery is not progressing, but not performed routinely.

Omega-3/Omega-6 Ratio

The ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids is a marker for balance of inflammatory factors in the body. Proper diet and supplementation generally result in satisfactory omega fatty acid ratios.

Cytokine Testing (Th1/Th2)

Cytokines are the messengers of the immune system. Cells of the immune system use cytokines to signal to each other and pass directions. Stealth microbes manipulate cytokines to generate inflammation and redirect immune functions in favor of the microbe.

Though the immune system and its interactions with different microbes is extremely complex (still beyond our complete understanding), effort has been made to simplify immune functions into two pathways important for chronic illnesses associated with stealth microbes. Below, “Th” stands for T helper cells:

  • Th1 pathway: Associated with cell-mediated immunity and intracellular pathogens. When the Th1 pathway is overactive, it’s associated with inflammation and autoimmunity.
  • Th2 pathway: Associated with antibody-mediated immunity and extracellular parasites. When overactive, the Th2 pathway is associated with asthma and allergies.

This is, of course, an oversimplification of a very complex process. In general, chronic Lyme and other illnesses associated with chronic immune dysfunction and stealth microbes are Th1 dominant.

Many herbs help balance this dysfunction by reducing overactive cytokines associated with inflammation and enhancing antibody and functional cell mediated immunity. A few herbs that stimulate Th1 functions (astragalus, echinacea) should be avoided during the early stages of recovery. Generally, measuring cytokines is unnecessary for recovery.

Adrenal Hormone Testing

Adrenal dysfunction or adrenal fatigue is a given in any chronic illness. Elevated cortisol levels, associated with increased physical and emotional stress, contribute to sleeplessness, stress intolerance, agitation, and anxiety. Prolonged adrenal stress can deplete cortisol, with resulting symptoms of extreme fatigue, total stress intolerance, and excessive sleeping (but sleep is dysfunctional and not restful).

Because adrenal dysfunction is always present in chronic illness and generally normalizes with proper therapy, measurement of adrenal hormone levels is generally not necessary. On rare occasions when a patient is not improving, measurement of cortisol can be beneficial.

  • Salivary cortisol: Measured four times over 24 hours, it’s the best measure of adrenal function, but symptoms are often a better guide.
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS): DHEAS measures adrenal function; high levels indicate excessive function, and low levels indicate inadequate function. This test is often performed, but it is not as reliable as cortisol measurement (which is also usually unnecessary, as symptoms are generally adequate to evaluate adrenal function). It is useful in only select circumstances.

Reproductive Hormones

Menopause can exacerbate the symptoms of any chronic illness. Though usually obvious (with the absence of periods), menopause can be confirmed by an elevated pituitary hormone called FSH: levels >25 indicate menopause. Other hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone, are generally not necessary to measure, but may be recommended by your healthcare provider. In men with fatigue, total and free testosterone are sometimes indicated.

  • Female: Salivary or blood E1, E2, E3, free testosterone, progesterone, FSH (screening FSH, Estradiol levels)
  • Male: Free testosterone, total testosterone

Testing for Toxins

Build-up of heavy metals and other toxins can be a hidden factor in chronic illness. However, every person living on the planet today is carrying some heavy metals, and no one really knows how much is enough to cause disease. The biggest source of concern is amalgam dental fillings (though recent opinions are suggesting that amalgam fillings do not shed as much mercury as once thought).

A healthful diet and lifestyle along with key supplements will generally reduce heavy metals in the body. Save heavy metal testing for last on the list; if you are still not getting better, ask your doctor about testing.

  • Hair samples: This is the least reliable method of testing for heavy metals.
  • Blood test: It’s valuable only for testing acute exposure.
  • 24-hour urine after DMSA: This is the most accurate assessment. Urine is collected for 24 hours after use of 100 mg of DMSA (Dimercaptosuccinic acid, a chelation medication) to pull heavy metals out of tissues.

The presence of organic toxins (pesticides, plastic residues) is almost a given and can be addressed with dietary and lifestyle modifications. Chlorella is excellent for pulling organic toxins out of the body.

Food Sensitivities

Chronic gastrointestinal dysfunction is often associated with sensitivities to commonly consumed foods (which is not the same as food allergies, like a peanut allergy). Symptoms associated with food sensitivities are commonly delayed for 1-2 days after the food is consumed. Typical symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, and general achiness — in fact, food sensitivities alone can be the root of many symptoms.

  • Food sensitivities are best determined by an elimination diet — a diet designed to selectively eliminate and identify problem foods.
  • Problem foods can also be delineated with specific IgG and IgA testing. Currently, there are several food sensitivity tests on the market, and many of them can be customized to test a range of foods, preservatives, medications, and more, and some can be delivered to your home. Depending on the company used and number of items tested, prices vary from just under $200 to several hundreds of dollars.

Comprehensive Stool Analysis

Stool analysis is valuable for defining gastrointestinal dysfunction and diagnosing parasites and yeast overgrowth. This expensive test is generally reserved for extreme cases when dietary modifications and supplements are not enough to overcome gastrointestinal problems. It is rarely necessary.

Folate and Methylation

There are about 40 different genetic mutations that can affect MTHFR, a gene that plays an important role in the body’s ability to use folate or folic acid. About 40% of the population has one abnormal gene and are moderately affected. About 12% of the population has two abnormal genes and is more significantly affected.

Problems associated with MTHFR mutations include elevated risk of stroke and heart attack, increased cancer risk, defects in embryo development (spinal tube defects), and neurological symptoms including insomnia, irritability, depression, brain fog, neuropathy (burning tingling feet and hands), and restless legs syndrome. It also can be a factor in recovery from fibromyalgia and Lyme disease.

For folks who want the technical details:

MTHFR is a gene that codes for an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This enzyme is vital for creating 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, an essential substance for converting the amino acid homocysteine into the amino acid methionine.

Methionine is essential for amino acid synthesis, formation of glutathione (an important intracellular antioxidant), formation of DNA, and detoxification. Methionine is also important for formation of SAMe, which plays a key role in metabolism of dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin. Without this important enzyme, all these pathways are blocked.

Testing for MTHFR mutations involves a simple blood test or DNA cheek swab that costs about $100 to $200; the blood test may be covered by insurance. Checking for elevations of homocysteine and RBC folate in the blood is an indirect way to check for the problem.

The best solution for elevated levels is getting plenty of natural 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (methylfolate for short). Leafy greens are a great source, but if you have a mutation, supplementing is a good idea. Folic acid, found in most multivitamin products, will not work because it must be converted by the deficient enzyme.

You must supplement with 5-methyltetrahydrofolate; 400-800 micrograms daily is generally adequate for anyone with a single mutation (especially if you eat plenty of leafy greens). If you have a double mutation, it is a good idea to take an extra 400-800 micrograms. For additional benefit, you can add 400-800 mg of SAMe daily, in the evening. SAMe supports detoxification and can improve sleep.

Chemical components called “methyl groups” that are essential for proper detoxification can also be supplied by vitamins B6 and B12. It is, however, important to get the activated forms of these important vitamins. The activated form of vitamin B6 is pyridoxal 5-phosphate, and the active form of vitamin B12 is methylcobalamin.

Healthful diet and adequate supplementation of methyl donors is generally adequate for recovery. MTHFR testing is only necessary if recovery is not progressing.

In my medical practice, I had the fortune of working with a lab that measured MTHFR for no charge. For the five years it was available, I tested all my patients. Surprisingly, I found it played a more minor role in recovery than I expected. I had chronic Lyme sufferers who were severely symptomatic who had no mutations, and perfectly healthy people who had double mutations.

Testing Beyond the Lab

Doctor checking brain scan for Lyme euro symptoms

Certain types of symptoms require evaluation by diagnostic procedures conducted by specialists in their respective fields. These symptoms include:

  • Neurological symptoms: Severe neurological symptoms are evaluated with a nerve conduction test and MRI of the brain to assess the nervous system. The purpose is ruling out multiple sclerosis.
  • Cardiac symptoms: Heart symptoms like chest pain and irregular heartbeat are evaluated by EKG and Holter monitor (a wearable device for tracking your heart rhythm). Findings may lead to cardiac catheterization.
  • GI symptoms: Stomach pain and symptoms are often evaluated by an upper endoscopy. Lower intestinal and colon symptoms are evaluated by colonoscopy. Routine colon cancer screening with colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years for everyone over 50.

Testing for Microbes

bacterias and microbes under microscope. Viral disease. 3d illustration

Testing for microbes in chronic illness is often like opening up a can of worms. Detection of a microbe in the body is only as good as the technology, and right now, the technology for diagnosing borrelia and other low-virulence stealth microbes is fair at best (they’re called “stealth” microbes for a reason).

And that’s for the species of microbes we know about. Research continues to press on in the search for stealth microbes that play a role in Lyme disease, including new forms of borrelia.

The long and the short of it is, all ticks carry potentially pathogenic microbes. If you have ever been bitten by a tick, you have been exposed to microbes, and you likely harbor one or more stealth microbes in your body. If you have all the signs and symptoms of chronic Lyme disease, then the chances that you are carrying some species of borrelia is high — no matter what the testing shows.

When you consider that borrelia has been prevalent in ticks worldwide for thousands of years, and that asymptomatic carriers are extremely common, borrelia is probably much more prevalent than is widely accepted.

The other side of the story is that as testing gets better and better, it will likely reveal that many healthy people have borrelia, and that everyone harbors some stealth microbes — Lyme coinfections like mycoplasma, bartonella, chlamydia, and many others are remarkably common.

The key to being healthy is robust immune function.

When you start seeing chronic Lyme disease for what it is — chronic immune dysfunction, with a pot of stealth microbes boiling over — the compulsion to test for specific microbes becomes less relevant. There are always possibilities that can’t be accounted for.

When I evaluate a person with possible chronic Lyme disease, it’s easier to just assume that borrelia and other stealth microbes are present. This allows me to have less reliance on unreliable lab results.

To Test or Not To Test

Sick man wrapped into blanket sitting on sofa in front of table with papers while staying at home

Our ability to test for microbes species is limited to a small piece of a much larger pie of unknowns. The total microbiome of the body consists of many thousands of microbe species; who knows how many of them are stealth microbes or opportunistic pathogens. A comprehensive herbal protocol covers for most possibilities, both known and unknown.

Which brings up the question: “Why test at all?”

Frankly, the most pressing reason to test is academic — that “need to know” quality that we all share as humans.

If you choose a conventional route of therapy, however, testing will likely be necessary. In fact, many doctors will not consider writing a prescription until testing is done and results are available. Considering the extreme limitations of the present state of testing for stealth microbes, it is one of the major drawbacks to pursuing a conventional route of therapy.

If you choose a natural route of therapy, testing is much less necessary. A comprehensive herbal protocol covers for borrelia and most other possibilities (without the toxicity associated with drugs and synthetic antibiotics). Many people have gotten well without doing any testing at all.

The biggest reason to test is if you are not improving. Sometimes testing can uncover the presence of other vector-borne diseases (babesia, ehrlichia, rickettsia, anaplasma), or viral reactivation of a herpes-type virus for which a prescription antimicrobial may provide benefit.

That nagging need to know, however, is a fundamental characteristic of human nature. “Could there be something present that could be easily treated?” is a question that often lingers in the back of everyone’s mind. Before proceeding any further, however, know that testing for microbes can unnecessarily complicate your recovery.

There are no absolutes when it comes to stealth microbes. A negative test does not rule out the possibility of a certain microbe being present or the possibility of other microbes being present. Diagnosis should not rely on labs alone. It’s a matter of adding up all the clues, including the symptom profile, prevalence of possible microbes in the geographic area, and any other factors that may be helpful in making the diagnosis.

If you decide to do lab testing, the place to start is with labs covered by your medical insurance. Insurance policies are highly variable, however, and it is up to you (not your doctor) to find out what is and isn’t covered.

Most healthcare insurance policies will cover testing for borrelia and possible coinfections with in-network labs. Most in-network labs, however, only do basic-level testing, which often carries a low probability of actually diagnosing an offending microbe.

Specialty labs do more advanced and sophisticated lab testing, but are generally not covered by insurance, and they can be pricey. Expense is the primary reason these tests are not covered by insurance. Testing for borrelia alone is not sufficient; if you are going to do testing, you really need to test for all the known possibilities. This can run $1,000 or substantially more.

Because of demand, there is a proliferation of specialty labs doing testing. The oldest and possibly best-known is IGeneX, but there are many new and innovative testing labs coming on the scene. Blood can be drawn at the doctor’s office and sent to a specialty lab, but you will probably be responsible for the bill.

Reasons to Test

Here are some of the more compelling arguments in favor of testing:

  • Needing to know
  • Some stealth microbes are more virulent than others and respond better to antibiotic therapy; a positive test can help direct therapy.
  • Obtaining lab tests for microbes supports research and increases the knowledge base of stealth microbes.
  • Financial support for labs and institutions doing testing.
  • Testing for a specific microbe is primarily valuable for acute symptoms after a tick bite.
  • Testing for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and other herpes-type viruses (there are eight that commonly infect humans) can be valuable because high titers associated with reactivation of these viruses may respond to antiviral therapy.

Limitations of Testing

Current testing options are indeed limited, and results often don’t contribute to faster or more successful recovery. Here’s a summary of testing limitations:

  • Multiple microbes are always present; a positive test for one does not rule out the presence of others.
  • During chronic infection, stealth microbes occur in very low concentrations in isolated areas of the body, making diagnosis by any means very challenging.
  • Stealth microbes commonly live inside cells, and some can exist in cyst forms (especially when they are under pressure). Both are factors that make diagnosis a real challenge.
  • Stealth microbes readily manipulate the immune system — detection depends on antibody production.
  • Cross-reactivity with other bacteria is common, including normal flora.
  • Most testing is species specific; many species of each type (genera) of microbe are possible, for which there is no available testing.
  • Symptoms of chronic Lyme can occur without the presence of borrelia and can be caused by other stealth microbes (though borrelia may be present with a false negative test).
  • Everyone harbors stealth microbes; the microbiome is extremely complex.
  • The concept of testing for chronic infections with stealth microbes is relatively new; most testing is focused on acute illness.
  • False negative rates are high for all forms of testing; false positives are also possible.
  • Testing for the many possibilities can run several thousands of dollars, often not covered by insurance.
  • A positive test for a specific microbe can provide false peace of mind.
  • A negative test does not exclude the presence of a microbe (especially during chronic illness).

Common Types of Testing for Microbes

Close up of unrecognizable scientist dropping blood samples in test tubes while working on research in laboratory, copy space

Testing is getting better, and there are a variety of different ways to test, but none of them are anywhere near 100% accurate. Testing is mostly useful for diagnosing acute illness. This is especially true when symptoms of illness suggest infection with a higher virulence microbe that might respond to acute treatment with antibiotics. New innovations may gradually improve testing for chronic illness associated with stealth microbes.

Direct Testing

Direct testing includes visualizing the microbe directly in tissue or blood samples, or growing the microbe out of tissue or blood samples in a media that is specific for that microbe. Direct testing is not species specific, so any species of the microbe can be diagnosed. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests look directly for the microbe’s DNA and are species specific (uncommon species may be present but will not be diagnosed).

These forms of testing are most useful for diagnosing acute infections. Direct methods are not reliable for chronic infections because stealth microbes occur in such low concentrations in the body during chronic infection, are not present in the blood in high numbers, can occur in dormant or cyst forms, live inside cells, and gravitate toward isolated recesses of the body.

Examples of direct testing:

  • Tissue/Blood: Direct visualization
  • Tissue/Blood Culture: Uses culture media specific for the microbe to grow the microbe in culture
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): Direct detection of microbe DNA in tissues, blood, and urine

Indirect Testing (Serology)

Indirect testing relies on antibody production to the microbe (serology). Evidence of acute infection is best evaluated with IgM antibodies and late acute or chronic infection with IgG antibodies. Some testing regimens require serial titers (testing at different time intervals) to distinguish between acute and chronic infections.

Different types of serology are available for different microbes. Accuracy for testing chronic illness associated with stealth microbes is greatly limited by low concentrations of the microbe in the body with reduced or inadequate antibody response for testing.

Examples of indirect testing include:

  • Enzyme-Linked Immunoassay (ELISA test, EIA): It measures antibodies in the patient’s serum that are specific to microbial antigens (part of the microbe) by using labeled enzymes to bind the antibodies for measurement.
  • Immunofluorescence Assay (IFA): This test utilizes fluorescent dyes to identify the presence of microbe-specific antibodies in the patient’s serum.
  • Western Blot: Detects antibodies to multiple different microbial antigens by measuring different protein bands. Collectively, the presence of multiple bands allows diagnosis of infection with a specific microbe. A Western Blot is more sensitive than ELISA for borrelia.

Diagnosing Borrelia

The stealth nature of Borrelia burgdorferi makes it very difficult to diagnose. Developing tests to detect it is a real challenge because it:

  • Stays deep in tissues
  • Has the ability to live inside cells (intracellular)
  • Has elaborate ways of tricking the immune system
  • Changes its genetic signature readily
  • Doesn’t require high concentrations of microbes to cause illness

In the United States, mainstream Lyme testing is specific for Borrelia burgdorferi, but there are presently 21 other species of Borrelia that can cause Lyme disease. In Europe, two other species of borrelia — Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii — are more common than Borrelia burgdorferi as a cause of Lyme disease.

Because of the mobility of people, different borrelia species are circulating around the world. This contributes to another layer of difficulty in diagnosis. It is becoming evidence that other species are much more common than once thought.

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Bull’s-Eye Rash (Erythema Migrans)

The classic bull’s-eye rash is signified by redness extending outward from the tick bite site with an outer, more prominent red ring. Symptoms of Lyme disease associated with a history of tick bite and bull’s-eye rash are the most reliable way to diagnose infection with borrelia, but even that is far from absolute.

There are likely other types of microbes that can cause a bull’s-eye rash. Only ⅓ of people with Lyme disease will have bull’s-eye rash, and only 10% of bull’s-eye rashes are associated with the presence of borrelia in the blood.

Blood/Tissue Culture

The most definitive test for proving the presence of a microbe is growing it in a lab from a tissue or blood sample. Because borrelia exists in such low concentrations in blood and tissues, and because borrelia is so difficult to grow under artificial conditions, cultures are generally not useful for diagnosing Lyme disease.

EIA tests (ELISA and ELFA)

This tests the host for antibodies produced against borrelia. It is recommended as a screening test for Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines this test as an important screening test for Lyme disease. But in clinical practice, most healthcare providers who treat Lyme disease find that this Lyme disease test has poor predictive value and limited usefulness. It has no value for diagnosing chronic Lyme.

PCR for B. burgdorferi

Short for Polymerase Chain Reaction, a PCR tests directly for borrelia DNA in the host’s blood, tissues, or urine. Historically, PCR has had limited accuracy, but improvements in technique are allowing PCR for microbial DNA to be the future of testing. At some point, it may be possible to define a person’s entire microbiome.

For now, testing is available for the most common species of borrelia and many common species of coinfections with other stealth microbes. Testing is most accurate during acute infection, and much less accurate during chronic infection.

Again, the bottom line is that if you have many or most symptoms of chronic Lyme disease, then you are likely harboring at least one species of borrelia and several other species of stealth microbes — no matter what the testing shows.

Many companies are offering microbial DNA testing, but a few are taking the lead. DNA Connexions tests DNA in either blood or urine specimens for three species of borrelia and several of the most common coinfections. Testing kits are available online.

Western Blot

The Western Blot for Borrelia burgdorferi relies on production of antibodies by the host’s immune system for different parts (antigens) of the bacteria. Antibody production does not occur until the body’s secondary defense kicks in, and it’s dependent on the host’s ability to mount an immune response.

The Western Blot test may provide a more accurate diagnosis of Lyme disease than most of the other available tests, but testing is more valuable for the late acute than chronic illness. In addition, the test is oriented toward diagnosis of Borrelia burgdorferi, and not other species of borrelia that may cause Lyme disease.

Because borrelia shares antigens with other bacteria, multiple positive antibodies (called bands) are required for a true positive test. Western blot is performed for both IgM and IgG antibodies in an effort to separate acute from chronic illness.

IgM antibodies show acute Lyme disease. IgM testing can be positive as early as one week after infection, and remains positive for six to eight weeks after initial exposure. CDC guidelines require two positive bands out of three (23-25, 39, 41). IGeneX labs add three extra bands (31, 38, 83-93), the first two of which were removed from the CDC criteria during the development of an unsuccessful vaccine and were never replaced.

The IgG antibody is typically present a few months following initial infection. IgG antibodies are more indicative of chronic disease. CDC guidelines require five positive bands out of 10 (18, 23-25, 28, 30, 39, 41, 45, 58, 66, 83-93). The IGeneX criteria is two bands out of six (18, 23-25, 28, 30, 39, 41, 45, 58, 66, 83-93). Band 41 is specific for the flagella (tail) of spirochetes (corkscrew bacteria), but is not absolutely specific for borrelia.

Acute viral infections can cause false positive results. Data reported from IGeneX supports that some Lyme patients may have only restricted IgM response to Borrelia burgdorferi. Because Lyme patients have different immune systems, only approximately 70% of those with Lyme disease will generate a positive Western Blot. Patients who test positive for rheumatoid factor or Epstein-Barr virus may have false negative tests.

IGeneX Western Blot is around $125. IGeneX is now offering PCR testing for Borrelia miyamotoi (associated with relapsing fever) for $265, as well as immunofluorescence testing (FISH) for babesia, anaplasma, ehrlichia, and rickettsia.


Aperiomics testing uses metagenomic sequencing with blood samples, tissue swabs, urine specimens, or fecal samples to identify every known bacteria, virus, fungus, and parasite — their database alone contains more than 37,000 microorganisms.

This test helps target which pathogens may be causing your symptoms. For example, if you have an ongoing gastrointestinal problem, and treatments haven’t brought you relief, you might benefit from the fecal testing kit, which could identify one or more pathogens responsible for making you ill.

Also, Aperiomics tests for Lyme disease and coinfections, but it will likely come with a hefty price tag. Since stealth microbes often hide in various tissues throughout the body, the company recommends testing kits that collect blood, swab, urine, and fecal samples, which can cost upwards of $2700. However, if your symptoms are more specific, you may be able to do less testing, and ultimately, save some money.

Although it’s tempting to gain as much information as you can about what’s making you feel ill, remember that no test is completely definitive, and the results might not change the trajectory of your treatment. Before you splurge on costly testing, talk with your healthcare provider about how new information can be used to advance your recovery.

Direct Tick Testing

If you actually kept the tick that bit you, it is possible to have the tick checked for certain microbes. The testing, however, does not check for all possibilities. Tic-Kit will check the tick for borrelia, bartonella, babesia, and ehrlichia.

Also, IGenex has a tick-test kit, which looks for pathogens like borrelia, tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF), babesia, anaplasma, ehrlichia, bartonella, and rickettsia.

Finally, local or state agencies, such as universities, may offer tick testing at little to no cost as part of research and data collection projects.


The bite of the Lone Star tick is associated with a Lyme-like illness named STARI (southern tick-associated rash illness). STARI can be associated with a bull’s-eye rash and all the symptoms of Lyme disease, but tests for borrelia are always negative. The cause of STARI is presently unknown, but another form of borrelia is suspected.

Testing and Diagnosing Coinfections and Related Microbes

Blood test tubes in woman hands, modern laboratory background

There are quite a few microbes spread by blood-sucking insects (ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, lice, chiggers, biting flies, scabies) that have stealth characteristics similar to those of Borrelia burgdorferi; some we know about, and others still waiting to be discovered.

They all have stealth characteristics and the ability to infect and thrive inside cells. They are masters of evading the immune system, and can be even harder to diagnose than borrelia. Symptoms profiles are similar to borrelia and related mostly to stimulation of cytokine cascades, not concentrations of microbes. Though they each have slightly different strategies, their motive is the same: complete a lifecycle stage within the host and move on.

The primary known players in chronic Lyme include mycoplasma, bartonella, and chlamydia species. The most well-known species of babesia, anaplasma, ehrlichia, and rickettsia are more apt to cause acute illness and less apt to be associated with chronic illness, but research is discovering lesser known and lesser virulent species of these microbes that are associated with chronic Lyme. Reactivation of herpes-type viruses is common in chronic Lyme.

Though testing is possible for some species of these microbes, when a natural route of recovery is chosen, extensive testing is not necessary and can actually be very misleading.


Diagnosis of mycoplasma is challenging, especially if it’s a chronic infection. Most commonly, amplified Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests are used for diagnosis, which look at a blood sample for DNA that is specific to the microbe.

PCR is species specific and focused on diagnosing acute respiratory or genital mycoplasma infections. When testing for mycoplasma, ask to be tested for all the possible species (M. fermentans, M. genitalium, M. penetrans, M. hominis, M. pneumoniae, M. synoviae, Ureaplasma urealyticum). Note that 75% of acute infections show cold agglutinins (clumping of red blood cells).

Serial titers testing for antibodies with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays can be used to test for acute infection. Persistent elevated titer may indicate a chronic infection or an asymptomatic carrier, but in general, chronic infection with mycoplasma is difficult to diagnose. A low WBC count is found in 25% of chronic infections.


The best test for bartonella is an amplified version of PCR called ePCR by Galaxy Diagnostics. The company, located in Research Triangle, North Carolina, offers both ePCR and serology testing for bartonella. Standard PCR for bartonella costs $260; ePCR costs $650 or more.

Testing is species specific; the most common species are included in the testing protocol. The company also offers standard PCR for anaplasma, babesia, ehrlichia, and rickettsia (the most common species) for $230 each (or $615 for a total tick panel).

Note that if you have private insurance, you will be asked to pre-pay for the test, which you may submit to your insurance carrier for reimbursement. Galaxy Diagnostics is a Medicare provider, so you will not need to pay upfront. However, if Medicare denies the claim, you’ll be responsible to pick up the cost of the test.


An Indirect Immunofluorescent Assay (IFA) tests for IgG and IgM antibodies produced by the body against babesia. Diagnosis relies on a four-fold rise in antibody titer over several weeks. The first sample should be taken as early in the disease process as possible, and the second sample taken two to four weeks later.

A PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) detects microbial DNA in a blood sample. IGeneX uses an amplified version of PCR and FISH together for improved accuracy of testing for B. microti and B. ducani.

Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, and Rickettsia

These microbes have the potential to cause severe illness; therapy should not await laboratory diagnosis if acute infection with any of these microbes is suspected. Blood can be drawn when therapy is initiated to confirm the infection.

The most accurate test is serial serology using Indirect Immunofluorescent Assay (IFA). Diagnosis relies on a four-fold rise in antibody titer over several weeks. The first sample should be taken as early in the disease process as possible, and the second sample taken two to four weeks later.

PCR is 60-85% effective for diagnosing ehrlichia and 70-90% effective for diagnosing anaplasma, but it’s less valuable for diagnosing Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Accuracy for diagnosing chronic infection is unknown. There are many new species of these microbes being discovered for which routine testing is not yet available.


Pelvic infection associated with C. trachomatis is diagnosed by vaginal swab in females (either patient or clinician collected) and urine sample in males. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) are the most sensitive. Yearly screening for females under age 25 is recommended by the CDC.

Testing for C. pneumoniae (respiratory infection) is performed with PCR specific for C. pneumoniae DNA from a blood sample. Present testing includes only the two most common species out of nine known species.


The list of viruses that can cause chronic infection with chronic reactions in the human body is long. A partial list includes Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), HSV-1, HSV-2, herpes zoster virus, HHV-6a, HHV-6b, HHV-7, parvovirus B-19, adenoviruses, and hepatitis B and C.

Reactivation of dormant viruses is commonly associated with immune dysfunction that occurs with fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, and similar chronic illnesses. Testing for specific viral reactivation is generally not necessary, but if you are interested, the best source of information about testing is Lab Tests Online.

The two most common reactivated viruses associated with chronic flu-like symptoms include Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus.

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

To evaluate acute and chronic infection for EBV, four antibodies are commonly tested including viral capsid antigen (VCA) IgG, VCA IgM, D early antigen (EA-D), and Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen (EBNA). Here’s how to interpret results:

    • The presence of VCA IgG antibodies indicates recent or past EBV infection.
    • The presence of VCA IgM antibodies and the absence of antibodies to EBNA indicates recent infection.
    • The presence of antibodies to EBNA indicates infection sometime in the past.

Antibodies to EBNA develop six to eight weeks after the time of infection and are present for life.

  • The presence of VCA-IgG, EA-D, and EBNA may indicate reactivation of the virus.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

To evaluate acute and chronic CMV infection, a blood sample is tested for IgG and IgM antibodies to CMV. Here’s how to interpret findings:

  • The presence of CMV IgM indicates a recent active infection.
  • The presence of both CMV IgM and CMV IgG can indicate active primary infection or reactivation of dormant virus.
  • The presence of CMV IgG only indicates past exposure.

Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites are common in third world countries where sanitation and waste disposal systems are poor, but much less common in developed countries. Parasite eggs are consumed with contaminated food, hatch inside the body, go through a lifecycle, lay eggs, and then die. The eggs do not hatch inside the body, but are shed in feces. Chronic parasite re-infestation requires continual consumption of contaminated food.

People in developed countries do occasionally consume parasite eggs from eating raw foods and can occasionally harbor very low levels of parasites, but rarely enough to cause symptoms of infestation. Infections are always self-limited unless contaminated food is again consumed.

Testing is rarely indicated. Testing stool for eggs and parasites is not very sensitive and is almost always negative unless infestation is large.

Transmission of Vector-Borne Diseases: How Stealth Microbes Make Their Way

Deer Tick on fingertip, zoomed in

Different stealth microbes have different transmission routes. Knowing the mode of transmission can sometimes be helpful in diagnosis. Many of them can be transmitted by ticks. For borrelia, STARI, babesia, ehrlichia, and anaplasma, this is a major route of transmission.

If the type of tick is known, sometimes it can be helpful in defining types of microbes present. This is not absolute, however. Most tick-borne microbes can be spread by a variety of ticks.

In addition, many stealth microbes are also spread by other biting insects (mosquitoes, fleas, lice, biting flies, chiggers), sexual contact, blood transfusions, and some by air droplets. Mycoplasma and bartonella are more commonly spread by other means and can already be present but silent at the time of infection with a different tick-borne microbe. Mycoplasma and bartonella are probably more common in individuals diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue (along with other stealth microbes).

Here are some common microbe-tick connections:

  • Borrelia: The black-legged deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), most common in the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and North-Central U.S., and the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) on the Pacific U.S. coast
  • STARI: The Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum), most common in the Southern U.S. extending out to Oklahoma and Texas, and in the Mid-Atlantic extending up into Northeastern U.S.
  • Mycoplasma: Mostly passed via respiratory and sexual transmission, but mycoplasma can be spread by biting insects, including ticks (probably numerous species). Numerous species of mycoplasma are widely distributed worldwide. Mycoplasma may be a primary factor in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune disease.
  • Bartonella: Most commonly associated with a scratch of an infected animal (cat, dog), bartonella can also be spread by fleas and lice. Ticks are a vector, but specific tick species have not been specified. Bartonella may be a primary factor in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
  • Babesia: Black-legged deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis), most common in New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island), New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Minnesota, but spreading southward. Also present in the Southeastern U.S., with Georgia as the epicenter.
  • Ehrlichia: Most common in Northeast and Southeast U.S., it’s most concentrated in a band stretching from North Carolina to Oklahoma (South, South-central, Southeast), which is the distribution of the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum). Ehrlichia is also transmitted by black-legged (Ixodes scapularis) and western black-legged (Ixodes pacificus) ticks, along with other tick species worldwide.
  • Anaplasma: Black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in the Northeast and Upper Midwest and western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) in northern California.
  • Rickettsia (Rocky Mountain spotted fever): American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), which has the most common distribution in the mid-states east of the Rockies; Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni); and brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), which is commonly found in Arizona. But RMSF is widely distributed across the U.S. and can occur in any state.

Hallmark Signs and Symptoms of Infection

Elderly woman suffering with parkinson's disease symptoms

Chronic infection with any stealth microbe is associated with nonspecific symptoms (it is their very nature). Even the symptoms that are considered classic for a particular microbe do not always occur. There are numerous species and strains of all of the different microbes, each of which have slightly different characteristics. If a classic symptom is present, however, it may help with diagnosis and treatment.

  • Borrelia: Microbes bore into areas of the body with collagen (skin, joints, brain) leading to a bull’s-eye rash (in 1/3 of cases), migrating arthritis, and brain fog
  • STARI: Probably another species of borrelia with the same characteristics as Lyme; symptoms include bull’s-eye rash (in 1/3 of cases) and migrating arthritis
  • Mycoplasma: Infect tissues that line areas in the body leading to initial respiratory or pelvic symptoms (depending on infection site), fatigue, and intestinal issues
  • Bartonella: Infect white blood cells and cells lining blood vessels and scavenge red blood cells for food; can result in bone pain from infection in bone marrow and pain in the soles of feet (from damage to blood vessels when walking)
  • Babesia: Infect red blood cells, liver, spleen; symptoms can include relapsing high fevers with drenching sweats and liver/spleen enlargement
  • Ehrlichia/Anaplasma: Infect specific types of white blood cells; symptoms can include high fever, headache, and muscle pain. It is mostly associated with acute disease; chronic disease is not as common
  • Rickettsia (Rocky Mountain spotted fever): Infect cells that line blood vessels, causing severe vasculitis. Symptoms can include high fever, spotted rash (90% of cases), and severe swelling in the extremities. It is mostly associated with acute disease; chronic disease is not common
  • Chlamydia: Chlamydia trachomatis can be spread by ticks, but is more commonly spread by sexual contact or respiratory infection. It can, however, be present at the time of infection with other microbes by tick bite. It is a common stealth microbe associated with chronic fatigue. It also has possible links to multiple sclerosis. Chlamydia is spread as a sexually transmitted disease and has been associated with chronic pelvic pain in women, infertility, and chronic fatigue. Chlamydia pneumoniae, which is associated with acute respiratory infection, has also been associated with chronic fatigue

Where to Get Lyme Disease Tests

Locating a healthcare provider who’s knowledgeable about Lyme disease to order the appropriate labs and test kits can be very overwhelming. You may find that you need more than one practitioner to help you. For starters, if you have a relationship with a primary care physician (PCP), even one who might not understand Lyme, they can order the routine lab tests so that you’re more likely to get them reimbursed by your health insurance.

The specialized test kits, such as coinfection panels, mycotoxin tests, or food sensitivities, will often be ordered by a Lyme-literate medical doctor (LLMD) or a functional medicine doctor who has some familiarity with Lyme. Ultimately, you’ll want to find a doctor you can trust, so they can identify the cause of your symptoms and how to help you on the road to recovery.

Dr. Rawls’ understanding of the treatment of Lyme disease, coinfections, and the value of diagnostic testing comes from his medical expertise as a doctor, as well as his personal experience as a Lyme sufferer. To learn more about Dr. Rawls, read his post about his chronic Lyme disease journey and his book Unlocking Lyme.

Dr. Rawls is a physician who overcame Lyme disease through natural herbal therapy. You can learn more about Lyme disease in Dr. Rawls’ new best selling book, Unlocking Lyme.  You can also learn about Dr. Rawls’ personal journey in overcoming Lyme disease and fibromyalgia in his popular blog post, My Chronic Lyme Journey.

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