Anorexia Nervosa Caused by Polymicrobial Tick-Borne Infections: A Case Study

Int Med Case Rep J. 2021 May 10;14:279-287. doi: 10.2147/IMCRJ.S311516. eCollection 2021.


The etiology of anorexia nervosa (AN) is multifactorial, and infections may play a contributory and possibly a prominent role. A case is presented which is indicative of a causal association between tick-borne infections and AN. This adolescent female was diagnosed with AN at an eating disorder clinic after excessive food restriction and an irrational fear of weight gain necessitating nasogastric tube feeding. Her history was consistent with systemic infections and she tested serologically positive to Borrelia burgdorferi, Babesia microti, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae; in addition, her clinical presentation was consistent with a Bartonella infection. After treatment with oral and intravenous antimicrobials, she stopped food restriction and no longer had body image concerns. Physicians should be aware of the possibility that tick-borne infections could underly a diagnosis of AN. The role of tick-borne infections in the etiology of AN warrants further study.

Keywords: anorexia nervosa; babesia; bartonella; infection; lyme borreliosis; mycoplasma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports