Each year, approximately 2 million new cases of Lyme disease occur in the US according to Brown University. Center for Statistical Sciences, School of Public Health, Brown University
Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection carried by bacterial species. The most common symptoms are erythema migrans (EM) rash, fever, headache, and chills. On its advanced stage, the affected person may suffer facial palsy, heart palpitations, and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
Given the inconvenience and danger it can bring, it’s essential to be aware of the myths and facts about Lyme disease.
Myth: Lyme is a disease that is caused by ticks.
Fact: Bacterial species cause Lyme disease. Borrelia maayonii and Borrelia burgdorferi are the leading causes in the United States, while Borrelia garinii and Borrelia afzelii are more common in Asia and Europe.
This disease is transmitted to humans through ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, and other blood-sucking insects that feed on small mammals and birds. The deer tick is just the most common reservoir.
Myth: Everyone who has Lyme disease has the “bull’s eye rash.”
Fact: While erythema migrans or bull’s eye rash is considered as a tell-tale sign of Lyme disease, it’s not always present. According to the CDC, 70% to 80% of infected individuals get the rash, which begins at the bitten site. It usually appears 3 to 30 days after the bite, expanding gradually until it reaches 30 cm or more. The rash may feel warm, but it’s rarely painful or itchy.
Myth: You can’t catch Lyme disease during winter.
Fact: While studies show that the majority of Lyme disease cases occur during summer months, this tick-borne disease remains a threat throughout the year. This is due to the increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. Many areas that are unfamiliar with the disease are seeing an emergence of Lyme disease.
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Myth: Antibiotics can cure everyone who has Lyme Disease
Fact: Studies show that 20% of patients who finished the antibiotic treatment still exhibit symptoms. The symptoms may persist due to an auto-immune response or residual bacteria. Regardless, the patient continues to suffer, and this condition is called Chronic Lyme Disease.
Recent investigations also show that 2 in 10 Lyme disease patients remained infected with the Borrelia bacteria despite negative antibody test results.
Myth: Negative test result means you’re safe from Lyme.
Fact: The modern gold standard for diagnosing Lyme disease is Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to be followed by the Western Blot test.
The ELISA detects memory antibodies against the Lyme bacteria, but it can miss detection if the antibody level is not high enough. The Western Blot test serves a second-stage confirmation, but there is also a margin of error.
While Lyme disease is rarely life-threatening, it can cause some debilitating symptoms. Delayed treatment may cause permanent damage to internal organs. Since antibiotics are not 100% efficient, and Lyme disease can affect your overall health, holistic treatment may be necessary.
The Lyme Research & Healing Centre is an expert on using alternative medicines and treatments for healing extremely persistent Lyme disease and multiple chronic infections. Contact us now to know more!