According to the CDC Lyme FAQ:
“There is, however, a great deal of misinformation regarding tickborne coinfections on the internet. The possibility of having three or more tickborne infections or having pathogens such [as] Bartonella or Mycoplasma (which have not been shown to be tickborne), is extremely unlikely.”
But in the chronic Lyme community, patients collect fake diagnoses like baseball cards.
See also: Tick-borne infections in the United States
Yolanda Hadid (formerly Yolanda Foster, formerly Yolanda van den Herik) is a reality show star who has been one of the most visible promoters of the fake chronic Lyme diagnosis. Her story has been critically examined in The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and the blog Real Skeptics of TV.
As is typical in the chronic Lyme community, Hadid believes she was afflicted with multiple unsubstantiated infections. She has used a silly form of diagnosis called muscle testing, which has no basis in reality.
In a desperate attempt to treat her many diagnoses, Hadid spent a fortune on quackery, seeing over 100 doctors in 11 countries. According to US Weekly, ex-husband David Foster “shelled out nearly $5 million on Yolanda’s treatments.”
In an interview with a credulous Dr. Oz, Hadid said she went through a brutal three month course of intravenous antibiotics.
It was like probably what hell looks like. I mean it was just so intense. Sweating on the bathroom floor just praying to get through that time.
This was three times the recommended duration, even if she had Lyme disease. Of course the IV antibiotics did not help her, as a science-based doctor would have told her. But she continued to pursue unnecessary intravenous therapies.
The photo above includes a chart created by Hadid to show her many diagnoses. The chart has 24 Post-it notes, which are transcribed in the following table, including what appears to be at least one duplicate:
|HHV6||Bartonella||Babesia||Borrelia garinii||Neuro borreliosis|
|Candida||Hep B||Epstein Barr||Borrelia spielmanii||Borrelia afzelii|
|Chlamydia Pneumonia||Marcons||Entamoeba Hartmanni||Encephalitis||Blastocystis hominis|
|Iodamoeba Butshii||Q-Fever||Cladosporium||Cryptosporidium Parvum||Cladosporium (sp? twice?)|
|Yersinia||Cryptococcus Laurenti||Eubacterium Cylindrodies||Rope Worms|
She also created a disturbing chart of treatments she tried, partially shown below. (Full list here)
To her credit, Hadid does admit she made mistakes, but the burning need for a cure led her further down the rabbit hole:
You’re so desperate that you want to believe anybody that comes up with something that is off the mainstream path. But there’s a lot of things that I did afterwards going like… Especially now with my brain function coming back. I go like “Oh my God! Was I crazy?”
Did I really walk into Tijuana covered with a baseball cap and black glasses and stand in line with all the people at the border to go and get fetal stem cell shots from some guy that wrote a book?
It’s like I’ve done shady things. But I was just like “No”. I’m either gonna get this or I’ll die tomorrow. But I’m going to die trying. I’m not gonna lay there and wait for this to go away because it’s not going away.
According to Hadid’s book Believe Me, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease based on an IgM test, which would have been inappropriate because it is prone to false positives. In addition to “chronic neurological Lyme disease”, at least 4 other infections were diagnosed initially (including Chlamydia trachomatis, which is not listed in the photo.)
It appears the more entrenched Hadid became in “chronic Lyme”, the more infections she believed she had, and the more quackery she consumed. In her book, Hadid does say the Hepatitis B diagnosis was made prior to her discovery of the chronic Lyme community.
Fake Bartonella infections
Particularly common in the chronic Lyme community are fake Bartonella infections. The CDC debunks some common myths about Bartonella, which is a genus of bacteria.
According to the CDC:
- To date, no study in the United States has shown that Bartonella can be transmitted to humans by ticks.
- Unfortunately there is a great deal of misinformation regarding multiple tickborne infections (called coinfections) on the internet. The possibility of having several tickborne infections at once or having pathogens such as Bartonella that have not been shown to be tickborne, is extremely unlikely.
In a 2013 survey by quackery propaganda group LymeDisease.org, 54% of respondents who thought they had chronic Lyme disease—itself an unrecognized diagnosis— also claimed to have a Bartonella coinfection.
See full article: Bartonella: Not a tick-borne disease or Lyme coinfection
Doctors are very concerned about patients who have been diagnosed with a false Bartonella infections because the patients may receive unnecessary treatments and delay treatments for a real conditions.
Despite claims by chronic Lyme activists of numerous chronic tick-borne coinfections, a 2014 scientific review concluded:
The medical literature does not support the diagnosis of chronic, atypical tick-borne coinfections in patients with chronic, nonspecific illnesses.
Consequently, the diagnoses of chronic coinfections that chronic Lyme advocates have received are likely misdiagnoses.
Other questionable diagnoses
- Mold illness, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), or sick building syndrome
- Heavy metals
- Biotoxin Illness and unsubstantiated “toxins”
- Chronic atypical Babesia
- Tick-borne mycoplasma
- Wifi allergy or fear of “smart meters” (electromagnetic hypersensitivity)
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and environmental illness
- Leaky gut
- Candida overgrowth
- Adrenal fatigue
- Most, and possibly all, cases of PANS/PANDAS
- Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome
- Most “vaccine injuries”
- Chiropractic subluxations
- Concerns about the MTHFR mutation
- unspecified parasites
- Unsubstantiated claims of being immunocompromised, immune deficient, or “B-cell AIDS”
- viruses (e.g. HHV6, Epstein-Barr or “chronic mono”, CMV) that are said to need unnecessary treatment
- Unsubstantiated sensitivities requiring special dietary restrictions (e.g. removing gluten, dairy, tomatoes)
- Kryptopyrroluria aka Hemopyrrollactamuria aka pyroluria aka Pyrrole disorder
- Protomyxzoa Rheumatica (a purported organism that does not exist)
- Irlen Syndrome
- MARCoNS (Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci)
- MSIDS (Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome)
- Unsubstantiated claims of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS, see article, consensus, and paper)
- Lantos PM, Wormser GP. Chronic coinfections in patients diagnosed with chronic lyme disease: a systematic review. Am J Med. 2014;127(11):1105-10. [Discusses dubious diagnoses of Bartonella, Anaplasmosis, and Babesia]
- CDC: Lyme FAQ
- Science-Based Medicine: Fake diseases, false compassion
- Wikipedia: List of questionable diseases
- Video of an apparent quackery victim who says she acquired 7 infections from one tick
- American Lyme Disease Foundation
- Quackwatch: Be Wary of “Fad” Diagnoses
- Quackwatch: Index to “Fad” Diagnoses
- Sloupenska K, et al. Seroprevalence of Antibodies against Tick-Borne Pathogens in Czech Patients with Suspected Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. Microorganisms. 2021.
- Telford SR, Wormser GP. Bartonella spp. transmission by ticks not established. Emerging Infect Dis. 2010;16(3):379-84.
- CDC: Bartonella testing FAQs
- CDC: Bartonella diagnosis and treatment: Information for clinicians
- LymeScience: No credible evidence supports rumors about stretch marks
- Additional references on our Bartonella page
- CDC: Babesia
- Infectious Diseases Society of America: 2020 Babesiosis Guideline
- Pearson ML, Selby JV, Katz KA, et al. Clinical, epidemiologic, histopathologic and molecular features of an unexplained dermopathy. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(1):e29908.
- Newsweek: Morgellons skin disease isn’t real, doctors say, but its sufferers haven’t gone away
- Morgellons Watch
- Fair B. Morgellons: contested illness, diagnostic compromise and medicalisation. Sociol Health Illn. 2010;32(4):597-612.
- The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Position Statement: The medical effects of mold exposure
- American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Position Statement: Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment
- Chang C, Gershwin ME. The Myth of Mycotoxins and Mold Injury. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2019 Dec;57(3):449-455. (paywall-free link)
- Edmondson DA, et al. Allergy and “toxic mold syndrome”. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2005;94(2):234-9.
- Khalili B, et al. Inhalational mold toxicity: fact or fiction? A clinical review of 50 cases. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2005;95(3):239-46.
- CDC: Notes from the Field: Use of Unvalidated Urine Mycotoxin Tests for the Clinical Diagnosis of Illness — United States, 2014
- CDC: Facts about Stachybotrys chartarum and Other Molds
- Dr. Farah Khan: Why Is the Internet So Obsessed with ‘Toxic Mold’?
- Dr. Farah Khan: We Don’t Need to Freak Out About ‘Toxic Mold’ After a Hurricane
- Quackwatch: Mold Neurotoxicity: Validity, Reliability and Baloney
- Quackwatch: Some Notes on the Overdiagnosis of “Toxic Mold” Disease
- Dr. Paul R. Lees-Haley: Mold Neurotoxicity: Validity, Reliability and Baloney
- Video: Dr. Eric Strong: Mycotoxins, Allergies, and Quackery
- Rabito FA, et al. The Relationship between Mold Exposure and Allergic Response in Post-Katrina New Orleans. J Allergy (Cairo), 2010.
- Kuhn DM, Ghannoum MA. Indoor mold, toxigenic fungi, and Stachybotrys chartarum: infectious disease perspective. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2003;16(1):144-72.
- Forbes: Dr. Mold
- Shayla Love: Sick building syndrome: is it the buildings or the people who need treatment?
- LymeScience: More on Ritchie Shoemaker, a top promoter of quack diagnoses like Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) aka biotoxin illness and MARCoNS
- Harvard Health blog: Is adrenal fatigue “real”?
- Science-Based Medicine: Adrenal fatigue: A fake disease (updated)
- Cadegiani FA, Kater CE. Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review. BMC Endocr Disord. 2016;16(1):48.
- Hormone Health Network: Adrenal Fatigue
- Hormones Demystified: Adrenal Fatigue – A Fraud Perpetrated On Unsuspecting Patients
- Dr. Steven Novella: Fake diagnosis fatigue
- Cleveland Clinic: A Genetic Test You Don’t Need– Testing MTHFR is usually unnecessary
- Science-Based Medicine: Dubious MTHFR genetic mutation testing
- Former naturopath Britt Hermes: How Your Genetic Sequence Can Be Exploited By The Supplement Industry
- Skeptical Raptor: Debunking the myth that MTHFR gene mutations are the root of all health problems
- Video: Dr. Zubin Damania aka ZdoggMD: What’s up with MTHFR and Vaccines
Other questionable diagnoses:
- Quackwatch: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Spurious Diagnosis
- Science-Based Medicine: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: Separating facts from fiction
- McGill Office for Science and Society: Zeroing in on the Cause of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
- Science-Based Medicine: Candida and Fake Illnesses
- Forbes: Heavy Metals Inc
- Science-Based Medicine: “Electromagnetic hypersensitivity” and “wifi allergies”: Bogus diagnoses with tragic real world consequences
- GI Society: Debunking the Myth of ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’
- Kelso JM. Unproven Diagnostic Tests for Adverse Reactions to Foods. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2018;6(2):362-365.
Other coinfections papers
- Gyllemark P, et al. Are other tick-borne infections overlooked in patients investigated for Lyme neuroborreliosis? A large retrospective study from South-eastern Sweden. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2021.
- Boyer PH, et al. Human Co-Infections between Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. and Other Ixodes-Borne Microorganisms: A Systematic Review. Pathogens. 2022.
- Wormser GP, et al. Co-infections in Persons with Early Lyme Disease, New York, USA. Emerg Infect Dis. 2019
- Eliassen KE, et al. Tick-transmitted co-infections among erythema migrans patients in a general practice setting in Norway: a clinical and laboratory follow-up study. BMC Infect Dis. 2021.
- Lehane A, et al. Prevalence of single and coinfections of human pathogens in Ixodes ticks from five geographical regions in the United States, 2013-2019. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2021.
updated May 16, 2023