• Justin H. Joe

Exploring the link between Lyme disease and mold illness

Updated: Jan 23

Justin H. Joe, PhD, CIH, CSP, CPE


Recent studies show that a person suffering from Lyme disease may experience worse or reoccurring symptoms if they are exposed to mold. Mold exposure can weaken the body’s immune system and make it difficult to remove toxins. If a person also has Lyme disease, symptoms may persist even with proper treatment and antibiotics. Lyme disease can also trigger a heightened immune response to mold, which is difficult to detect due to overlapping symptoms.


What to know about Lyme disease:

Humans contract Lyme disease mainly through tick bites, with symptoms typically beginning about three to 30 days after the bite. The bacterium that causes Lyme disease is called Borrelia burgdorferi and sometimes, Borrelia mayonii, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


The CDC estimates that each year 476,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease. While most recover from the infection with the help of antibiotics, Lyme disease can lead to chronic problems if it’s left untreated. Initial symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash that resembles a bull’s eye as well as flu-like symptoms. Advanced stages of Lyme disease may cause severe headaches, neck stiffness, more rashes, facial palsy, arthritis, joint swelling, pain in muscles and joints, heart palpitations, dizziness, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, nerve pain and shooting pains in the hands and feet, according to the CDC.


Examining the link between Lyme disease and mold exposure

Recent studies show that exposure to mold is a potential concern for those suffering from Lyme disease. Symptoms of Lyme disease and mold illness can be quite similar, according to Dr. Raj Patel who has personally suffered from both diseases. Patel said he had previously recovered from a Lyme disease infection, but then his Lyme disease symptoms came back after he was exposed to mold. Dr. Raj Patel concluded that almost half of all unresolved cases of Lyme disease could be due to mold exposure.

Some molds produce harmful substances known as mycotoxins. Mycotoxins can enter the human body by inhalation, swallowing, or skin absorption. These substances can have severe health consequences. Mold can disrupt the human immune system, causing it to overreact or under-react. This means mold exposure can lead to other immune-deficiency problems. Eventually, someone with a weakened immune system may be unable to recover from infections such as Lyme disease.


Similarities between Lyme disease and mold illness


In both Lyme disease and mold illness, symptoms occur from a disrupted immune response and an overproduction of a signaling molecule called proinflammatory cytokines or cytokine. Cytokines are proteins produced by our immune system that regulate immune responses. Both Lyme disease and mold illness overdrive the immune system. The presence of bacteria (Lyme disease), mycotoxins (mold illness), or both in the body may disrupt the immune system, causing inflammation. Here are a few common symptoms of both Lyme disease and mold illness: respiratory symptoms, digestion problems, body pains, neurological symptoms, behavioral changes, and other symptoms.



Take Away

Recent studies show a clear link between Lyme disease and mold exposure. Both conditions can resemble one another with overlapping symptoms. In fact, Lyme disease and mold illness can trigger each other. ure can further complicate Lyme disease symptoms in patients due to Mold exposmold’s weakening effect on the immune system. Proper treatment and taking appropriate steps to remove molds can prevent complications from chronic Lyme disease. Look for any damp conditions in the patient’s home or office that could trigger mold growth. Water damage and leaks should be inspected for the presence of mold. Moisture sources are the main cause of mold exposure.


BNF Consulting, Inc. is a licensed mold inspection company that abides by New York State & US EPA regulations for mold inspection and testing. Does your home or business have a mold problem? Our company can provide a reliable mold inspection service to determine potential risks. Call us today at 914-297-8335 for a free phone consultation!


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About Authors:

Justin H. Joe, PhD, CIH, CSP, CPE, is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and

a principal consultant of BNF Consulting, Inc. Dr. Joe graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with PhD and MS degrees in nuclear engineering. Dr. Joe has provided industrial hygiene consulting as a core function with his diverse background of experience and education.


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1.US CDC. 2021. Lyme Disease. [Online] Available at <https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/humancases.html> [Accessed 18 January 2021].

2. Mold Exposure and Lyme Disease: The Hidden Link. (2020, May 13). Homebiotic - Probiotics For Your Home. https://homebiotic.com/mold-exposure-and-lyme-disease/


3. LYME SCI: Dealing with Lyme disease and mold illness at the same time. (2017, July 17). LymeDisease.org. https://www.lymedisease.org/patel-lyme-mold/


4. The Link Between Mold Illness and Lyme Disease. (n.d.). Www.Ccfmed.com. https://www.ccfmed.com/blog/link-between-mold-illness-and-lyme-disease


5. The Connection Between Chronic Lyme and Mold Illness. (n.d.). Genesis Performance Chiropractic of Elverson, PA. https://www.genesisperformancechiro.com/blog/2020/5/18/the-connection-between-chronic-lyme-and-mold-illness#:~:text=Mold%20suppresses%20the%20immune%20system


6. LYME SCI: Dealing with Lyme disease and mold illness at the same time. (2017b, July 17). LymeDisease.org. https://www.lymedisease.org/patel-lyme-mold/


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