Low Platelets Caused by Infectious Diseases

In most cases of thrombocytopenia caused by bacteria or a virus, the treatment approach is to treat the underlying infection. In all cases, these diseases are accompanied by other symptoms not associated with ITP, although the person may present only with low platelets. The usual treatments for ITP can be harmful as well as ineffective in some of these diseases.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

The association between HIV and low platelets has been known since the 1980s. Thrombocytopenia, in these cases, can be caused by a combination of impaired bone marrow, compromised immune system and a reaction to some medications.

Resources and research providing insight into HIV and low platelets include:

The Foundation for AIDS Research
AIDS United

Hepatitis C

The liver makes thrombopoietin, the protein that prompts the bone marrow to release platelets, as well as clotting factors needed for blood to clot. Liver disease can cause both thrombocytopenia and increased clotting time. Of the liver diseases, hepatitis C is most often associated with low platelets and mistaken for ITP.

Resources and research providing insight into hepatitis C and low platelets include:

HVC Advocate
American Liver Foundation


Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease usually found in tropical or sub-tropical climates.

Resources and research providing insight into malaria and low platelets include:

Tick-Borne Diseases

Ticks are small, wingless parasites that feed on blood and are found all over the world. Ticks can be infected with bacteria, viruses, or parasites and can easily transmit these infectious organisms to humans and other animals through their bite. It is not uncommon for an individual tick to harbor more than one infectious microorganism and infect the patient with multiple pathogens at the same time, compounding the difficulty in diagnosis and treatment. Low platelets are present in nearly all tick-borne illnesses. Diseases caused by tick-borne pathogens in the United States include: Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever, Tularemia, Anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, Powassan encephalitis and Q fever.

Resources and research providing insight into tick-borne diseases and low platelets include:

Lyme Action Network
American Lyme Disease Foundation

Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori)

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria widely associated and studied in conjunction with ITP. There are numerous reports of people diagnosed with ITP, particularly in Italy and Japan, who have recovered after being treated for H. pylori.

Resources and research providing insight into H. pylori and low blood platelets:


Hantavirus is transmitted to humans through rodent bites, urine, saliva or waste.

Resources and research providing insight into hantavirus and low blood platelets:

American Lung Association
Chest Foundation

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a type of herpes virus, and like the other viruses in this family, it can remain dormant in the body for a long period of time. 

Resources and research providing insight into cytomegalovirus and low blood platelets:

National CMV Foundation

Parvovirus B19

Parvovirus B19 is transmitted by humans via respiratory droplets and is associated with low platelets and petechia rash. Parvovirus in animals is not transmitted to humans. 

Resources and research providing insight into parvovirus B19 and low blood platelets include:

Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever 

A more severe form of dengue fever, dengue hemorrhagic fever, transmitted by mosquitos, includes thrombocytopenia, petechiae, and bruising among its symptoms.  Prior immunity to dengue fever plays a role in developing this more serious variety.

Resources and research providing insight into dengue hemorrhagic fever and low blood platelets include:



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