The first case of Lyme-arthritis, in association with a deer tick, was diagnosed in Old Lyme in 1975, CT. Hence the name Lyme disease is commonly used in North America. It was Willi Burgdorferi who discovered the Borrelia burgdoferi spirokeet, which is the dominant strain in North America in 1981. In Europe, it is referred to as Borrelia or Borreliosis, not Lyme disease. Researchers at the University of Bath discovered that Borrelia burgdoferi originated in Europe, not in North America, before the Ice Age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed in the United States each year. But, Lyme, known as Borreolosis in countries outside the US, and other vectorborne infections are grossly underreported. In North America, Borrelia burgdoferi is prevalent, while in Europe, Asia and Russia there are more diverse strains including Borrelia garinii, Borrelia miyamotoii and Borrelia afzelii. It is possible to be co-infected with two different strains of Borrelia. Today Lyme, or Borriolois, it is a modern day epidemic across the world with many different strains and mutations.
Ticks become infected when feeding on infected reservoir hosts. This can include many rodents, ground foraging birds, and small mammals. Ticks favor a habitat of wooded and grassy areas, leaf litter and fallen logs on the ground. When walking across grassy fields, gardening or playing within fallen leaves, gathering of firewood ticks, or hiking through wooded areas, ticks can attach anywhere on the body or on clothes we wear. They are attracted by feet hitting the ground, aromatic chemicals, Co2, and humidity.
While engaging in outdoor activities, it is best to wear shoes, long socks, tucked-in light colored long pants , a tucked-in shirt with long sleeves, and a hat. A chemical-free product called Tick Tock Naturals™ with organic insect repellant is helpful and it can be sprayed on the exposed skin areas. You might have heard about DEET, a poor tick repellant, and permethrin, that is used by the military. After returning from the outdoors, a hot shower and an essential body check in a strong light are preventative measures. You can carefully wipe off a crawling tick and discard it with caution, and you can take appropriate action if you see a tick that has attached already. Removal must be done carefully as the mouthparts can remain embedded if one simply attempts to pull out the tick. Plus by squeezing the body of the tick it will inject more harmful substances. ILADS.org provides helpful information on tick removal.
When ticks are on our clothes or body, they climb into more favored areas such as creases behind the ears, scalp, head, neck, armpits, groin area, belt area, behind the knee, and others. They may use their taste receptors to decide where to feed. When the tick attaches, it burrows its barbed mouthpieces into the body. It injects substances similar to an anesthetic and antihistamine into our body. As a result, you do not feel as the tick latches on your body and begins to feed. It also releases enzymes and an anti-clotting substance that prevents our blood from clotting, which is an innate protective measure against any external infectious assaults or injuries. The immune system is deactivated and does not respond appropriately against the foreign invasion through the skin.
By dismantling these protective gatekeepers in our body, it allows for the easy transfer of Lyme spiroketes, worms (nematodes) containing spiroketes, toxins and other infectious agents from the tick into our body -or any other host. If undisturbed, the tick burrows into the skin and will feed on our blood for several days, growing in size. The longer it stays attached, the more potential for harmful transmission. It is best to remove the tick cautiously, or to go to a medical facility. If possible, keep the tick so it can be sent off for pathology testing, and monitor the bite after it has been cleaned. But then again, you might have never seen the tick.
Some develop symtoms such as a rash or sever leg pains or Flu-like symptoms within 24 hours. Seek medical attention but also educate yourself about symptoms of these vectorborne infections. When you have an embedded tick see a doctor. Not taking action can have dire longterm consequences. However, here is the challenge. Physicians and Infectious disease doctors might be dismissive of your symptoms and will not do appropriate testing, nor provide needed treatment. I have witnessed this in NYC, and not just once.Yet it is at this stage, that the intervention, based on clinical findings, is crucial.
In our body Lyme spiroketes choose transportation highways and hiding places outside the bloodstream where the immune system cannot get to it easily. It uses the lymphatic system and the peripheral nervous system for its transportation network. Sanctuaries can include the brain, the inside eyeball and joints that are rich in hyaluronic acid, and heart tissue. The goal is to avoid detection and to ensure its survival.
The spirokeets associated with Lyme or Borreliosis also develop cloak-and-dagger shapes in our bloodstream that are not being recognized by the immune system as being harmful. Infectious agents can be in spirokeet (corkscrew), granular, round ball and cyst forms. The bacteria change shape as needed to avoid detection in the host, and they prefer round forms to evade antibiotic therapy, especially penicillin. It is a natural survival strategy. Many Russian studies indicate this, yet this factor is ignored in Western medical treatment.
Over time chronic infections progressively cause more destruction inside the human body. The infections also suppress the immune system and lower our body temperature as they like to operate in a cooler environment. With a compromised immune system, the individual will also be more susceptible to airborne viral infections such as the mosquitoborne West Nile, Malaria or Zika virus, or the reactivation of latent herpes viruses inside the body. Infectious disease combinations can be deadly in a short time if there is no appropriate medical care.
Besides cloak-and-dagger forms, infectious Lyme spirokeets also create microcolonies, called biofilm, with other microbes where each one has a different shape and function.Biofilm is a safe hiding place for a variety of microbes and active Lyme spirokeets in their varying cyst forms or round shapes. It can be attached to a surface like on a joint replacement or teeth, or a Lyme biofilm colony can float through the bloodstream. Throughout the biofilm are water channels throughout which they can travel, absorb nutrients and eliminate substances such as endotoxins that make us sick.
It is like a stealth military operation that is based on survival of the fittest. Biofilm, changing forms that are not identified by the immune system as threats are some of the reasons why detection is challenged with conventional Western Blot blood testing, and why antibiotic, especially penicillin, or herbal therapeutic treatment can be ineffective with persistent symptoms.
In the US, the two-tiered testing guidelines by the CDC are used for Lyme disease. Testing is based on a single strain of a spirokeet, called Borrelia burgdoferi, from the gut of a tick. Yet there are over 100 different known strains of Borrelia burgdoferi in the United States, and hundreds more different strains abroad. Tests do not include testing for various coinfections that are often transmitted with the Lyme infection. False/negative results are not uncommon.
First there is one blood test that is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test (ELISA), which measures the antibody response in the blood.
If that is positive, then the ELIZA is followed up with the Western blot test, which is still the standard for Lyme disease testing. It is unreliable and flawed; 56% of patients with Lyme disease test negative using the two tiered system recommended by the CDC.It measures the antibody response and reports reactivity against different protein bands of one strain of DNA from Borrelia burgdoferi.
For the first four to six weeks, most individuals do not produce antibodies against infectious agents associated with Borrelia burgdorferi. If an individual has an already weakened immune system, the test will not show a positive antibody response even after six weeks. With prior infections and antibiotic treatment it gets even more complex in asserting an active infection versus a long term antibody response.
There are many coinfections possible that can be layered with the ringleader, Borrelia. Prevalent coinfections in North America include various strains of Babesia (Babesiosis), Ehrlichia (Ehrliciosis), Bartonella henselae (also known as cat scratch fever), Rickettsia rickettsii (Rocky Mountain spotted fever) and STARI (lone star tick infections in the southeastern and eastern United States). Infections can be inside the cells, such as Bartonella and Babesia, and in the fluid surrounding cells, also known as the extracellular matrix, where Lyme spirokeets are active. In addition, there are microorganisms that contribute to other tenacious infections such as Mycoplasma, Anaplasma and Chlamydia pneumoniae. And the Powassan virus. It is related to the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, which is now reported in forty-eight states in this country.
Other dormant viral infections often become activated infections and these can include herpes viruses including Epstein Barre Virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Herpes Simplex 1 and 2 and more. But remember that the body is always trying its best, under any circumstances, to help you get better: It wants us to be well.
For more information on the spread of infections, the latest updates on US government policies regarding treatment, testing options, and how best to protect yourself from future infections, www.ilads.org. is my recommended resource.
Sophisticated polymerase chain reaction testing (PCR) of infectious agents at DNA level provides more sensitive and specific. However it can test false negative if there is insufficient DNA in the test sample. Thankfully, there are now more labs in the United States (including IGENEX, Advanced Labs, Medical Diagnostic Labs, Laboratory for the Diagnosis of Lyme Disease, University Medical Center in Stony Brook, and DNAConnexions) and Europe (Borrelia Elispot and SeraSpot from Armin Labs) that are more specific and sensitive in their testing. However, this testing can be very expensive and it can also show negative results. You can have negative test results, but you are infected and ill. As such, Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis.
In addition, when infected with Lyme, one is more susceptible to biotoxin illness (toxic mold) as the immune system is already compromised. And, when suffering from mold illness, one is more vulnerable to becoming very sick when infected with Lyme. Mold and Lyme symptoms mimic each other, and both [[AU: the symptoms?done RK]] make you very ill if not treated early on.
Absence of proof is not proof of absence. According to the CDC and the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), chronic Lyme disease does not exist. Instead, the CDC gives the multisystemic illness a vague label: Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. Many Lyme specialists, doctors and patients find this label vague and dismissive. In many countries, including the United States, the mainstream medical community and insurance companies still do not recognize or accept persistant Lyme and coinfections as a legitimate illness.
Lyme, or Borreliosis, is known as The Great Imitator. An acute Lyme disease infection has the potential to become a multimicrobial, viral and multisystemic illness with increased inflammation and a suppressed immune system – if no interventions are made along the way. This results in autoimmune, cardiovascular, neurological, digestive, arthritic and psychiatric symptoms that are often misdiagnosed.
The infections are an epidemic on a global scale. Geographical expansion is increasing especially in higher and lower altitudes. Recreational activities, cross continent travel, forestry work, military trainings, bird migrations, farming and the effects of climate change must be considered with higher temperatures in winter and earlier spring.
Dr. Richard Horowitz, a highly respected international Lyme disease physician has mentioned that there are currently over one hundred strains of Borrelia in the United States (over three hundred strains worldwide) and thirty types of Bartonella. In his book, Why Can’t I Get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease, Dr. Richard Horowitz provides a groundbreaking sixteen-point differential diagnostic map that can be extremely helpful as a guideline for anyone who is not recovering despite allopathic antibiotic treatment.
Existing research has not extended into the multiple coinfection strains that occur on a global scale, and lack of funding for research is another challenge. The immense diversity of strains makes these infections difficult to test, diagnose, and treat, and there is great diversity in treatment approaches. Germany, Austria, France, Norway, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Belgium, Finland, China, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden are acknowleding the endemic existence of these infections yet appriate diagnosis and treatment is lacking for many who are seriously ill. Official reportings and real incidences differe greatly. Few countries have made these infections mandatorily notifiable and this makes it difficult to track data, especially with underreporting and non-standardarized testing of coinfections. Currently there is no European consensus on antibiotic treatment in acute or long term vector borne infections.
In my native country, South Africa, the SA Department of Health does not believe one can get Lyme disease from a tick bite in South Africa, nor do most doctors. Yet there are tick bites fever with acute and severe fevers, sore joints and flu-like symptoms. And there are malaria strains in South Africa that result in strokes, encephalitis and meningitis with deadly consequences. Visitors from abroad are advised to take anti-malarial medications if they go to certain regions in the country, including the Kruger National Park that is riddled with Malaria. The country is challenged with large scale malaria and HIV infections. Currently there is a lack of awareness, diagnosis, testing and research specifically regarding Borriolosis.
From the above it is easy to discern how vector borne infections and Lyme disease or Borreliosis are a real challenge in the world today. Testing is not foolproof, prolonged medical treatment is costly and its effectiveness is being challenged besides concerns of drug resistance. The financial burden of longterm treatment contributes in part to the denial of the existence of these persistent vectorborne bacterial and parasitic illnesses.
Excerpt from upcoming book
NOURISH, HEAL, THRIVE
A Comprehensive and Holistic Guide When Living with Lyme
Author: Rika Keck