Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of a tick, and the disease is prevalent across the United States and throughout the world. Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis. The disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria (spirochete) called Borrelia burgdorferi. The Lyme spirochete can cause infection of multiple organs and produce a wide range of symptoms.

It has become the number one vector-borne disease in the United States. The CDC states that while over 20,000 cases are reported annually, the actual number is likely 10 times greater. Most doctors on the frontlines of Lyme clinical care believe the actual number is more like 25 times the CDC's reported case number. It is rare to meet a person who doesn't know someone who has had Lyme disease or is currently suffering from the effects of this disease.

It is called the new great imitator because of its ability to look like so many other diseases and conditions. Often misdiagnosed when the classic “bull's eye rash” is absent or when some of the unreliable blood tests are negative, Lyme is taking its toll in terms of human misery in the United States and many other countries. When Lyme is combined with other tick-borne infections, it becomes especially problematic.

Symptoms:

  • Erythma migrans.

    Erythema migrans is the tell tale rash which occurs in about 70% to 80% of cases and starts as a small red spot that expands over a period of days or weeks, forming a circular, triangular, or oval-shaped rash. Sometimes the rash resembles a bull's-eye because it appears as a red ring surrounding a central clear area. The rash, which can range in size from that of a dime to the entire width of a person's back, appears between three days and a few weeks of a tick bite, usually occurring at the site of a bite. As infection spreads, several rashes can appear at different sites on the body.

    Erythema migrans is often accompanied by symptoms such as fever, headache, stiff neck, body aches, and fatigue. These flu-like symptoms may resemble those of common viral infections.

  • Arthritis.

    After several weeks of being infected with Lyme disease, approximately 60% of those people not treated with antibiotics develop recurrent attacks of painful and swollen joints that last a few days to a few months. The arthritis can shift from one joint to another; the knee is most commonly affected and usually one or a few joints are affected at any given time. About 10% to 20% of untreated patients will go on to develop lasting arthritis. The knuckle joints of the hands are only very rarely affected.

  • Neurological symptoms.

    Lyme disease can also affect the nervous system, causing symptoms such as stiff neck and severe headache (meningitis), temporary paralysis of facial muscles (Bell's palsy), numbness, pain or weakness in the limbs, or poor coordination. More subtle changes such as memory loss, difficulty with concentration, and a change in mood or sleeping habits have also been associated with Lyme disease. People with these latter symptoms alone usually don't have Lyme disease as their cause.

    Nervous system abnormalities usually develop several weeks, months, or even years following an untreated infection. These symptoms often last for weeks or months and may recur.

  • Heart problems.

    Fewer than one out of 10 Lyme disease patients develops heart problems, such as an irregular, slow heartbeat, which can be signaled by dizziness or shortness of breath. These symptoms rarely last more than a few days or weeks. Such heart abnormalities generally appear several weeks after infection, and usually begin to resolve even before treatment.

  • Other symptoms.

    Less commonly, Lyme disease can result in eye inflammation and severe fatigue, although none of these problems is likely to appear without other Lyme disease symptoms being present.

Prevention:

  • Tick Avoidance

    . Deer ticks require a damp, humid environment to survive and are most often found in wooded areas and wooded edges, especially in leaf litter and low ground cover. They are usually picked up on the lower leg and tend to crawl up the body looking for a place to attach and feed.

  • Protective clothing.

    Some ticks are very small and difficult to spot, especially the nymph tick. Wearing light colored clothing whenever working or playing in tick endemic areas makes spotting ticks easier.

  • Tick repellent

    . You can substantially increase your level of protection against both ticks and mosquitoes by applying a DEET based or other repellent to your skin, and by pre-treating your clothing with .5% permethrin spray. A single application of permethrin to your clothing can provide up to six weeks of protection, even after repeated washings.

  • Daily tick check.

    The single most important step in reducing your chances of contracting tick-borne illnesses is the daily tick check. Be sure to check yourself, your children and pets after spending time outdoors in tick endemic areas. Use the sensitivity of your fingertips to feel for small bumps, starting with a thorough inspection of the:

Diagnosis: 

Orthomolecular Nutrition & Wellness Center uses multiple testing methods but mainly the Borrelia culture test from Advanced Laboratory Services for the following reasons:

CULTURE vs. SEROLOGY

  • Culture is more sensitive (94% vs. <50% for serologies)
  • Culture is 100% specific, vs. 70%-80% for serologies
  • Culture indicates active infection; serologies only show past exposure

WHEN TO DO A CULTURE

  • Initial diagnosis
  • Seronegative suspected Lyme
  • Patient with borderline/in determinate or conflicting Lyme serologies
  • Co-infected patients, to confirm the presence of Borrelia
  • Post treatment, symptomatic patients
  • Newborns (collect cord blood)
  • Recipients of the Lyme vaccine
  • Immunosuppressed patient (more likely to have a false negative serology)
  • Concurrent viral illness (which may give a false positive Lyme serology)
  • New tick bite in a patient with a prior history of Lyme

Check the link below for the latest research paper on the "Improved Culture Conditions for the growth and detection of Borrelia from Human Serum"

Do antibiotics always work to treat Lyme disease?

While antibiotics and other prescription meds are certainly helpful in treating the disease and the all-to-common tick-borne co-infections that often hitchhike into your body through a tick bite.  Antibiotics alone may not suffice because Lyme disease is caused by an intracellular spirochete bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. "Intracellular means that the spirochete gets into the cell and therefore is not always available to the antibiotics," explains Isaac Eliaz, MD, coauthor of the journal report and founder of Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center in Sebastopol, California. "The cell membrane inadvertently protects the bacteria and shields it from the antibiotics. The bacteria can also hide dormant in the nervous system, among other places such as in biofilms, where antibiotic drugs can't reach them."

What are BioFilms?

A biofilm is a multicellular colony of multiple species of microorganisms and extracellular materials (materials outside of cells) that stick to one another or a surface. In some camps, biofilms are referred to as "slime," although when viewed with a microscope, fibers are present. The growth and proliferation of disease causing pathogens depends on biofilm. Although not all bacteria form biofilm, Lyme spirochetes are shown to aggregate within them.

How do BioFilms affect Lyme Disease?

Lyme spirochetes are found to aggregate (gather) in biofilms. Until 2009, protocols focused on eradicating individual pathogens, with little attention paid to biofilms. Especially in chronic infections, newer protocols address biofilm as a colony of different organisms with a defensive barrier. This is one of the main reasons high dose antibiotics are not usually successful in treating chronic lyme. The practitioner has not addressed the removal of the biofilm before treatment.

Within the protective barrier of biofilms, pathogens aggregate and multiply, greatly increasing virulence. Enzymes and other agents are recommended in lyme disease protocols to degrade and destabilize the pathogenic biofilm "slime" organism/layer.

Treatment:

Orthomolecular Nutrition & Wellness uses multiple modalities to treat chronic lyme that may include IV Nutrition, UVBI and many others. But the most important of them all is bringing down the Lymes defense through a Biofilm removal protocol.

To find out more about our treatment protocols please contact the clinic and set up an appointment at (727)-518-9808.

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