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 infections 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.

In the photo below, Hadid laid out 24 Post-it notes of diagnoses she received, which are here transcribed in a 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

 

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, you know, 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 going to 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:

  • There is currently no convincing evidence that ticks can transmit Bartonella infection to humans.
  • 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.

Several Bartonella species are known to infect humans.  Bartonella henselae causes cat-scratch disease because the bacteria is transmitted to humans from a scratch of a cat. The human body louse (lice) transmits Bartonella quintana to humans, causing Trench fever. Most cases of cat-scratch disease go away on their own, though a short (e.g. 4 day) course of antibiotics may be recommended. For Trench fever and serious complications of Bartonella, the CDC recommends consulting with an infectious disease expert and treating with antibiotics. The National Organization for Rare Disorders states that Trench fever “is commonly found in homeless, alcoholic, and poverty-stricken populations where poor sanitation and poor hygiene often occurs.”

Given the known characteristics of Bartonella, the claims of chronic tick-borne Bartonella infections are simply not supported by science.

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. One exasperated doctor stated, “now one of my patients is arguing and menacing because I do not confirm his infection by Bartonella spp.”

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.

Other questionable diagnoses

  • Morgellons
  • Mold illness
  • Heavy metals
  • Biotoxin Illness and unsubstantiated “toxins”
  • Chronic Babesia
  • Tick-borne mycoplasma
  • Wifi allergy or fear of “smart meters” (electromagnetic hypersensitivity)
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • 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
  • viruses (e.g. HHV6, Epstein-Barr, CMV) that are said to need unnecessary treatment
  • Unsubstantiated sensitivities requiring special dietary restrictions (e.g. removing gluten, dairy, tomatoes)

Resources:

General:

Bartonella:

Babesia:

Morgellons:

Mold:

Adrenal fatigue:

MTHFR Mutation:

Other questionable diagnoses: