By: Bryan Rosner—Lyme Patient—Edited by: Dr. Jason West
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia Burgdorferi, an elongated, spiral‐shaped bacteria, transmitted to humans through the bite of an insect. Known as spirochetes, these bacteria are unusual, not well studied, elusive, difficult to cultivate in the laboratory, and capable of advanced survival activities more commonly found in larger, more intelligent organisms.
Most Lyme Disease literature reports that Lyme Disease was first documented in Lyme, Connecticut, (where it derives its name), in the late 1970s. However, evidence from various sources indicates that Lyme Disease is much older than popularly believed. In 1883 a German physician named Alfred Buchwald observed a degenerative skin condition which is presently hypothesized to have been a Lyme‐related ailment. Subsequently in the United States as early as 1920 physicians began correlating what are now known to be Lyme disease symptoms with tick bites.
OBSTACLES IN DIAGNOSIS
Despite the vast and increasing prevalence of Lyme Disease in the United States and other countries, many doctors are still not trained to look for the disease. Lack of training results from the misguided belief among mainstream medical colleges that Lyme Disease is actually not a prevalent, rapidly spreading infection, but instead a rare and uncommon condition.
Some doctors will tell a sick person returning from a camping trip to take some Pepto‐Bismol after diagnosing them with food poisoning from camping food. Other doctors will suggest Giardia, as a result of drinking contaminated stream water, and proclaim that the telltale bull’s‐eye rash is just a harmless insect bite or an allergic reaction to some grass or pollen or other irritant found in nature. Still other doctors will recommend watching symptoms for a few weeks to see if they improve on their own, after which time, if a person really had contracted Lyme Disease, any course of treatment is considerably less effective. If the bacteria are allowed to survive in the body unchallenged by therapy for more than a couple days, treatment becomes much more complicated and protracted because the bacteria invade and colonize many organs and tissues. For this reason, early detection and treatment are critical—yet they often do not occur because Lyme Disease is not on the forefront of most physicians’ minds.
If a physician is actually trained to look for Lyme Disease and orders a Lyme Disease test, the next obstacle in the way of accurate diagnosis is the high probability of inaccurate, unreliable test results. As many as 60% of people infected with Lyme Disease will actually produce a negative test result! This can happen because the antigens and antibodies which the tests look for are not present (or at least not detectable) in the body during a large part of the bacterial life cycle. Therefore, anyone who receives a negative Lyme Disease test result in the presence of clinical symptoms should be suspicious and consider a therapeutic trial of Lyme Disease therapy, a procedure in which a person suspecting Lyme Disease is given a course of Lyme Disease treatment to see if clinical improvement results.
Timing of symptom onset also contributes to missed diagnoses, even when dealing with a competent physician. Symptoms often do not appear until several weeks or months after the infection is acquired. A person coming down with a mystery illness may not suspect Lyme Disease even if they vaguely remembered an insect bite, because there may be no apparent association between the bite and the new symptoms. This confusion makes it difficult for even a good physician to sort out what is going on.
To make matters worse, in many cases, symptoms of Lyme Disease may be delayed even longer. In some cases, symptoms may not appear until years after initial infection, leading to an even smaller probability of proper diagnosis. In addition, initial symptoms can be so subtle that they are mistaken for “growing pains” or “being out of shape”. In these cases tests would not even be ordered unless a shrewd physician or patient pieced together the puzzle. And, even if tests were ordered, the looming risk of a false‐negative result creates more confusion.
New evidence has also identified other possible routes of transmission, including mother child during pregnancy or breast‐feeding, mosquito to human, and sexual intercourse. These routes of transmission are not recognized or acknowledged by most of mainstream medicine. This denial is in the face of glaring evidence to the contrary and is a cause for additional confusion when diagnosing Lyme Disease. Because some Lyme Disease sufferers have never spent much time outdoors, they will automatically be disqualified from Lyme Disease screening—even if, in reality, they are subject to other risk factors such as those listed above.
Adding to the already stacked odds that a Lyme Disease sufferer will not be diagnosed properly is the elusive and variable nature of the spirochete itself. Lyme Disease can and does manifest as dozens of different diseases and conditions (98 currently documented co-infections) which are conventionally believed to be incurable and unrelated to Borrelia Burgdorferi infection.
The ability for the disease to manifest in so many ways is a result of the spirochete’s capability of infecting each and every major organ system in the body. Unfortunately, most physicians do not suspect Lyme Disease when dealing with one of these other conditions even though, in a significant number cases, Lyme Disease is the root cause.
Examples of such diseases include Parkinson’s, ALS, depression, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Epstein‐ Barr virus, candida, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, obsessive‐compulsive disorder, and others. Because of its ability to mimic so many seemingly unrelated conditions, Lyme Disease is known as “the great imitator.”
Further complications arise from many doctors who do not acknowledge that Lyme Disease exists in more than a few isolated parts of the United States. Chances are a person with a newly acquired Lyme Disease infection will encounter a physician who does not believe the disease is native to the area in which they live. In reality, Lyme Disease has been found in every state in the United Sates and many countries throughout the world.
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Continue reading more about Lyme Disease with Part 2 of this series here.
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