Sherrill Sellman, ND
In 1975, the town of Lyme, Connecticut experienced a mysterious outbreak of what was thought to be juvenile rheumatoid arthriti.
In 1975, the town of Lyme, Connecticut experienced a mysterious outbreak of what was thought to be juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. However, the real problem was a newly discovered disease transmitted by Borrelia burdorferi (Bb) bacteria, a spirochete (spiral-shaped bacteria) found in ticks. The disease was called Lyme disease.
Since then, Lyme disease has increased so dramatically that it is now the most prevalent tick-and insect-borne illness in the United States. It was originally believed that the deer tick (Ixodes Dammini) spread the infection, but, in fact, research has confirmed that a variety of tick species as well as biting insects including mosquitoes, sand flies, mites, and fleas are hosts. Lyme disease can also be transmitted sexually and through bodily fluids.
An Under-Reported Infection
The US Center for Disease Control states that "there is considerable under-reporting" of Lyme disease. As many as 1.8 million people, 10 times higher than the 180,000 cases currently reported, may be infected. However, since diagnostics tests are often inconclusive and symptoms mimic other diseases, the number may be 100 times higher (18 million in the United States alone).
Lyme disease has now been reported throughout the world. In Canada, Lyme disease-carrying ticks have been found in every province. Although the Canadian government officially acknowledges only a few hundred cases, Jim Wilson, founder of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, believes that there are thousands and possibly even tens of thousands of undiagnosed people.
Lyme disease is called the "great imitator" since it has the ability to mimic more than 300 conditions and diseases. In fact, it is estimated that Lyme disease may be a contributing factor in more than 50 percent of chronically ill people.
The spirochete is able to attack multiple organ systems, embedding itself inside tendons, muscles, tissue, the heart, and the brain in less than a week after exposure. For this reason, Lyme disease is difficult to prevent, diagnose, and treat. Medical treatment is often delayed, resulting in a greater chance of chronic infection.
In the world of opportunistic bacteria, the Lyme spirochete is one of the most aggressive bacteria presently known.
Lyme Disease Symptoms
During the first month of infection, a "bull's eye" skin rash may appear at the site of a tick bite. However, only 50 percent of infected people have this type of rash. Lyme can have as many as 10 different types of body marks. Often there is no rash at all.
Other symptoms include fever, aches, fatigue, neck stiffness, jaw discomfort, muscle pain and stiffness, swollen glands, memory loss, burning sensations in the extremities, and red eyes. Symptoms are often intermittent, lasting from a few days to several months or years.
Lyme disease can even masquerade as a variety of chronic illnesses including Alzheimer's, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Bell's palsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and syphilis.
The medical community is often perplexed by the highly individual and complex nature of Lyme disease. Some people experience Lyme disease as a minor illness that appears to be easily treated with antibiotic therapy without any long-lasting complications. Others are not as fortunate.
The Lyme spirochete is difficult to treat, evading the immune system by entering and exiting a cell cloaked in the cell's own material. It can change into other forms or form dormant cysts, only to reemerge years later.
Testing for Lyme disease is woefully inaccurate. Individuals can repeatedly test negative and still have the disease. The two most commonly used tests are known as the ELISA test and the Western Blot antibody testing. However, symptoms are considered the most reliable diagnostic indicator because only 30 percent of infected individuals test positive for antibodies.
The standard treatment is the administration of antibiotics for at least three to four weeks. Unfortunately for some, even with long-term antibiotics, the spirochete can cause persistent infection.
Other treatments proven effective in conjunction with antibiotics include colloidal silver, bee venom, and artemisia. Cat's Claw (TOA-Free), an herbal extract, has been proven a successful treatment that can safely be taken long term.
After spending time outdoors check yourself, your family, and pets for ticks. If you find any, remove them immediately with tweezers, pulling carefully and steadily. Avoid twisting and do not attempt to burn the tick. If you suspect that you have been bitten, seek medical attention immediately.