Lyme disease (LD) is the most virulent tick borne infectious disease epidemic to plague the United States since AIDS/HIV during the 1980s. LD is transmitted by the Eastern black-legged deer tick Ixodes scapularis and the Pacific Coast variation, I. pacificus.
Deer are one of the major hosts for black-legged ticks, and once over hunted their populations dwindled, which caused the populations to scatter. Populations of white-footed mice, are an important reservoir host for Bb, which also had declined. In undisturbed areas across the country especially in the Northeast and the Midwest, white tail deer, white-footed mice, and black-legged ticks had managed to survive and with them so too had Bb. As forests regenerated Bb spread inside of the black-legged tick and their vertebrate hosts into newly re-expanded habitats.1
Scientists once believed the white footed mouse and the white-tailed deer were the only vectors responsible for carrying the bacterial spirochete known as Bb. However, migratory birds spread and expanded the range of black-legged ticks and at some point became two species an East Coast and a West Coast variation, as indicated above. Both ticks spread Bb.2 Some bird species have also have expanded their ranges north, into parts of Canada, carrying ticks with them, which strongly suggest climate change has added to an increase in viability in vectors to survive in an area that once would have been too cold.3
While the deer ticks continue to be the primary vector responsible for LD, a growing body of evidence suggest other blood vectors can transmit Bb such as: mites, fleas, and mosquitoes. One item of interest is the fact there is significant research to also support evidence which documents pregnant women infected with LD, can pass the disease on to her unborn child through the placenta. This makes it possible for the pregnancy to end in miscarriage, stillbirth, and/or birth defects. Of those children, who reach full term, while they may seem healthy, many often develop Lyme disease later in life. Some doctors believe other human-to-human transmission is possible via sexual intercourse but more research needed.
Black-legged ticks not only carries Bb, but also at least seven different co-infectors. Four of the most problematic are Babesia, Bartonella, and Erichiliosis, Mycoplasma. A newly discovered Powassan virus has been found in many I. scapularis ticks found in the Northeastern part of the country. I will talk about this in another post later as it is too much information all at once.
When the tick embeds itself to its human, canine, feline, avian, and other suitable hosts it spreads the bacterial infection Bb or LD. Bb is a bacterial spirochete unlike any other bacterium known to scientists today. Many bacterial infections are treated and cured rather quickly and easily by various antibiotics. These bacteria are single cell organisms whose shape and size varies, none compares to the Lyme spirochete except for one, its cousin Syphilis. More research is needed to decide whether Lyme is spread sexually. This takes money and funding which is a big issue in this field of work.
Borrelia burgdorferi — Spirochetes — Defense Mechanism — treatment
Bb has evolved a defense mechanism, similar to Syphilis during at some point during their life history. Once the bacterium enters the bloodstream it continues to morph and mutate for as long as it remains viable inside the host’s bloodstream. Bb also crosses the blood-brain-barrier, and unlike any other known bacterium in existence. From the research learned from Syphilis, scientists have been better able to understand how Bb works and are learning new facts about its evolutionary changes once it enters into the bloodstream of its human host. With this knowledge they have unraveled some of the mechanisms required in attempts to treat the disease and bring it to remission. Currently, there is no cure for Lyme disease, like its cousin syphilis. But as always, more funding is required to support Lyme disease research. However at this juncture, support for Lyme disease research is one of the most contentious and discussed below.
Stages of Borrelia burgdorferi
Spirochetes are spiral (“Spiro”) shaped or corkscrew-like, extremely thin bacteria that uses their flagella (aid in movement of the corkscrew like spirochete) to motor their way through the bloodstream; The spirochetes bore their way like a corkscrew from the bloodstream into the body cavity as they cross the blood brain barrier. The flagella may also serve to help ‘drill a hole’ into cells and aid in pulling the cells apart which likely causes inflammation of the intestinal cells caused by LD and yeast Candida. This process also increases the likelihood of leaky gut syndrome, associated food allergies, and sensitivities to foods and medications, and auto-immune responses. LD and the many co-infectors attack at cells and organs mimicking many diseases, which is how Lyme first got its name as the Great Mimickers or Imitators.
The Lyme spirochetes move around the bloodstream and body using wing-like flagella to propel their corkscrew shaped bodies. The differentiation between this bacterium and nearly all others is the spirochetes’ capability to cross the blood brain barrier. This occurs when they sense an impending danger, (antibiotics or other adverse drug) they penetrate the muscles, joints, eyes, heart, kidneys, and other vital organs, nervous system, bones, and various skin sites where their presence gives rise to the multitude of symptoms of disseminated diseases.
L-Form- this form hides inside the cell. Sometimes it’s called an “intracellular L-form.”
Cyst Form this form of Borrelia can blockade itself inside a slimy coated cyst called a biofilm mentioned above, which evades all known antibiotics. When the biofilm becomes penetrated by a specific enzymes however, this can cause the cysts to breakdown and the spirochetes either bore their way into another part of the body or are killed off, which results in significant die off endo-toxins. When this occurs Lyme specialists refer to this as a Jarisch- Herxheimer reactions. Herxheimer reactions are an unavoidable and necessary result of treatment. Patients who respond to such therapy report periodic exacerbation of their symptoms as an apparent direct response to the die-off of the endo-toxins. These adherent cells are often embedded within a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substance, which encompasses the spirochete when they form cysts inside the body.
That said, three enzymes Serrapeptase, Lumbrokinase, and Nattokinase can be used to break down the biofilm coating surrounding the cysts long enough to allow antibiotics to destroy the spirochetes. Serrapeptase is derived from the silk worm; Lumbrokinase is derived from the gut lining of earthworms; while Nattokinase is derived from fermented soybeans. All three enzymes stop the immune system from further damage to the central nervous system as well as help break down the hard biofilm coating.
Treatment Is Not Without Its Difficulties
One of the issues with treatment is the longer the tick is embedded, the greater chance the spirochetes have crossed the blood brain barrier. When this occurs, the spirochetes immediately bore into the various organs within the body or change-form into a cyst or L-Form and go undetected. When this situation occurs, the spirochetes are have evacuated the bloodstream and spread to the body cavity and various organs and do not respond to antibiotics. Antibiotics are useless unless specific enzymes are given to break down the biofilm, which surrounds the newly developed spirochete cyst, a defense mechanism the spirochetes use when they detect a threat (antibiotics). This is in part, why it is so difficult to detect LD and why the use of long-term antibiotics is required, particularly IV antibiotics.
Bb can convert to a metabolically dormant cyst in humans. The cyst-form allows the bacterium to survive in unfavorable conditions and to elude the hosts immune defense mechanisms. Because the bacterium crosses the blood-brain-barrier as quickly as possible, the spirochetes tend to form cysts surrounded by a protective biofilm and change form increases inside various organs. This is just two of the many reasons LD is so difficult to detect and thus treat. Enzymes are required to break down the biofilm, or the outer coating the microorganisms or cells adhere themselves, and the various co-infections and secondary infections all encompassed with this biofilm which is extremely difficult to penetrate even with specific medication. The photo below illustrates the spirochetes development into these protective cysts and surrounded biofilm colony.
These biofilm colonies contain adherent cells embedded within a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substance, which surrounds the spirochete as they form the cysts inside the body. These Bb cells can convert into a metabolically dormant cyst in humans. The cyst form allows the bacterium to survive inhospitable conditions and to elude host immune defense mechanisms and antibiotics.
When a tick bite is discovered extract the tick with needle nose tweezers, by pulling straight up and put in alcohol and take it with you to your doctor so they can identify the organism. Meanwhile, immediately administer antibiotics like Neopsporin to the bite. And see a doctor immediately. You must be given antibiotics immediately and if the doctor won’t do so, talk to his supervisor and go up the chain of command until you get some. IV doxycycline is best.
Web Surfing for Information
Many people will immediately get on the web when they get a tick bite. So as you also know or should, a lot of misinformation is on the web especially when it comes to LD. Much of the information you will find is simply not true or is sugar-coated to come across that LD is not a serious illness, when in fact it is a very serious illness. If left untreated a person can result in permanent nerve damage, joint damage or Lyme Arthritis, organ damage or failure, or death. I will be frank and to the point. Always. Sugar coating information regarding your health is dangerous. So you should always contact your doctor about lyme disease but more importantly a doctor who is Lyme Literate. Not just your family medicine doctor or primary care doctor. Believe it or not, not all infectious disease doctors are Lyme Literate, a fact I find disturbing.
While I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t do I will be frank here and provide information based on my experience with the disease, what I have learned as someone with Lyme disease, what I have learned speaking with various doctors about the disease, and as someone who has a heavy science based education (BS, MS, PhD). I can not however, fill in for your doctor. I will not provide you with advice only the facts and you will take or leave what I tell you. Ultimately it is your decision.
That said, if you don’t find what you are looking for on my site either drop me a note via contact me page, in the comments section below, or drop me a note on Facebook. Or, you can find some of the best information on Lyme disease on the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) site. There is a wealth of basic information about the disease. There you will find good information about LD that is also trustworthy. However, they do not go into much in-depth information that you maybe seeking. Another great site is by Lorraine Johnson, JD who is a Lyme Disease Advocate well versed in Lyme disease and the legalities of the disease and Dr. Richard Horowitz, a pioneer and Lyme Literate physician located in Hyde Park, New York.
Lyme Disease is Contentious
LD is a such a contentious topic and there is so much misguided information out there it is crazy. LD is an epidemic across the entire US, and pandemic within in the Northeast and Upper Midwestern US, as well as many states in the Southeastern US and Pacific Northwest. And if anyone tells you different they have no idea what they are talking about. This insidious disease has found its way to every state, and around the world, except Antartica.
LD is currently the lowest funded illnesses falling well below Breast Cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. In the US, the CDC estimates that the annual number of new cases of Lyme disease in the US exceeds 357,000 and as high as 1-2.5 million cases per year in the United States alone. This figure does not include the thousands of cases that go unreported or misdiagnosed; numbers continue to climb at alarming rates each year; Lyme disease has become the most virulent vector-borne disease in the history of United States and world-wide. This year will likely be unprecedented simply because of the change in weather patterns. If these patterns continue to change the number of tick-borne illnesses world-wide number will likely approach a half billion to one billion infected people around the globe with Lyme disease.
Anonymous sources: 3- LLNDs, 2 LLRNs