We have all heard of Lyme Disease, but it seems that few know much about the disease or what it can entail. Here’s a description form the Lyme Disease Association.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb).
How is it transmitted?
In the US, the bacteria are transmitted to people and animals by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, commonly called the deer tick, and Ixodes pacificus (western black legged tick) in the West. Although other types of ticks such as the Dermancentor variabilis (american dog) and some insects have been shown to carry the Lyme bacteria, to date, transmission of Lyme through those vectors has not been proven.
The bacteria can also be passed through the placenta of a pregnant woman to the fetus—congenital transmission.
The DNA of the bacteria has been found in breast milk, but no transmission has been proven to date in humans.
The Lyme bacteria have been proven to survive blood banking conditions; however, to date, no transmission has been proven through blood transfusions in humans. Studies have shown transmission through this route in mice in the lab.
There is no proof to date that Lyme is sexually transmitted, although some preliminary studies have found PCR positives for the DNA of the Lyme bacteria in semen and in cervical tissue. These findings do not prove sexual transmission, but some physicians feel because the Lyme and syphilis spirochete (bacteria) are similar, Lyme may be sexually transmitted.
Lyme disease is found in approximately 65 countries world wide, although different types of ticks and different strains of bacteria may be involved.
What are the symptoms of Lyme?
General early signs & symptoms: EM (bull’s eye) rash at bite site (less than 50%), other types of rashes, (rash at other than bite site signals disseminated disease), flu-like illness.
Cardiac/Pulmonary chest pain or rib soreness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, pulse skips, heart block, heart murmur or valve prolapse.
Gastrointestinal: nausea or vomiting, difficulty eating, change in bowel function (constipation, diarrhea), gastritis, abdominal cramping, irritable bladder or bladder dysfunction, cystitis.
Musculoskeletal: joint/muscle pain in feet, swelling in toes, balls of feet, ankle pain, burning in feet, shin splints, joint pain and/or swelling, stiffness of the joints, neck or back, muscle pain or cramps that may migrate, neck creaks and cracks, neck stiffness, TMJ.
Neurological: twitching of the face, eyelids or other muscles, headache, tingling, numbness, burning or stabbing sensations, facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy), dizziness, poor balance, increased motion sickness, light-headedness, wooziness, difficulty walking, tremor, confusion, difficulty in thinking or with concentration or reading, forgetfulness, poor short term memory, disorientation (getting lost, going to wrong place), difficulty with speech, double or blurry vision, eye pain, blindness, increased floaters, increased sensitivity to light or sound, buzzing or ringing in ears, ear pain, deafness, seizure activity, white matter lesions, low blood pressure.
Neuropsychiatric: mood swings, violent outbursts, irritability, depression, disturbed sleep (too much, too little, early awakening), personality changes, obsessive compulsive disorder, paranoia, panic anxiety attack, hallucinations.
Reproductive: testicular pain / pelvic pain, menstrual irregularity, milk production (lactation), sexual dysfunction, loss of libido.
Other: fever, sweats, or chills, weight change (loss or gain), fatigue, tiredness, hair loss, swollen glands, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, swelling around the eyes.