Lyme disease was first recognized in the United States in 1975, following a mysterious outbreak of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis near the community of Lyme, Connecticut. The rural location of the Lyme outbreak and the onset of illness during summer and early fall suggested that the transmission of the disease was by an arthropod vector. In 1982, the etiologic agent of Lyme disease was discovered by Willy Burgdorfer.
Burgdorfer isolated spirochetes belonging to the genus Borrelia from the mid‐guts of Nodes ticks. He showed that these spirochetes reacted with immune serum from patients that had been diagnosed with Lyme disease. Consequently, the lyme spirochete resembling the syphilis spirochete was given the name Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb).
Methods of Lyme Disease Transmission
W.T. Harvey, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., and Patricia Salvato, M.D., of Diversified Medical Practices in Houston, Texas, were puzzled by the high number of patients testing positive for Lyme disease. Many of these patients presented with “established” criteria for Lyme disease, but others did not. The fact that southeastern Texas is a ‘non‐endemic’ region, and that many of the patients had no history of erythema migrans rash, led the doctors to question established methods for Lyme disease consideration.
Careful reflection of published research lead them to conclude the following. First, the arthropod is not the exclusive vector of Lyme disease. In addition to ticks, Bb may be carried and transmitted by fleas, mosquitoes, and mites. Second, Lyme disease is not exclusively vector-borne. Compelling evidence supports horizontal (sexual) and vertical (congenital) human‐to‐human transfer. Other front‐line physicians are arriving at the same conclusions. “Of the more than 5,000 children I’ve treated, 240 have been born with the disease,” says Charles Ray Jones, M.D. Dr. Jones, the world’s leading pediatric specialist on Lyme disease, says that about 90% of his practice is comprised of patients with the disease. He also states, “Twelve children who’ve been breast‐fed have subsequently developed Lyme.” University of Wisconsin researchers state that dairy cattle and other food animals can be infected with B. burgdorferi so some raw foods of animal origin might be contaminated with the pathogen.
Recent findings indicate that the pathogen may be transmitted orally to laboratory animals, without an arthropod vector. Thus, the possibility exists that Lyme disease can be a food infection. Citing limitations of laboratory tests for the detection of antibodies to Bb, a study was conducted in 1995 at the University of Vienna (Austria) for its detection. Utilizing polymerase chain reaction testing for DNA, Bb was found to be present in both the urine and breast milk of patients previously diagnosed with Lyme disease.
A study conducted at the Sacramento (California) Medical Foundation Blood Center in 1989 concluded that there is evidence that the transmission of Bb is possible by blood transfusion. Furthermore, in 1990, a study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia stated that the data demonstrates that Bb can survive the blood processing procedures normally applied to transfused blood in the USA.
Endemic areas for tick-borne disease include the entire Eastern and Western coasts of North American with their internally contiguous states as well as Midwestern states that support migratory bird North‐South flyways. Co‐infections of Babesia, Bartonella and Babesia are common. Epstein Barr Viral infection may be a trigger as well.
Number of Cases
Lyme disease is the fastest‐growing epidemic in the world. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. affirms that “there is considerable under‐reporting” on Lyme disease, maintaining that the actual infection rate may be 1.8 million, 10 times higher than the 180,000 cases currently reported. Nick Harris, Ph.D., Director of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), states “Lyme is grossly under‐reported. In the U.S. we probably have about 200,000 cases per year.” Dan Kinderleher, M.D., an expert on Lyme disease, stated on the Today Show on June 10, 2002 that the number of cases may be 100 times higher (18 million in the United States alone) than reported by the CDC.
Jo Anne Whitaker, M.D., has developed a “Rapid Identification of Borrelia burgdorferi” and has over 2900 positive specimens for Bb from forty‐six (46) states, including Alaska and Hawaii. In addition, Dr. Whitaker has had positive specimens from Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Scotland, The Netherlands, Ireland, England, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and the Canary Islands. Considering vector, congenital and sexual transfer, Dr. Harvey and Dr. Salvato estimate that 15.5% of the global population, nearly 1 billion people, could be infected with Bb. Lee Cowden, M.D., states that there are very few symptoms where one should not consider Lyme, especially given that a quarter of the U.S. population may be affected. It is estimated that Lyme disease may be a contributing factor in more than 50% of chronically ill people.
Lyme Disease Symptoms
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
B6 responsive anemia
Buzzing in the head
Change in brain waves
Change in hearing/buzzing/tinnitus
Changes in taste and smell
Chills and fever
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Cold hands, cold feet
Continual and recurring infections
Demyelinating Disorders (MS)
Encephalitis and encephalomyelitis
G.I. distress/abdominal pain
History of an insect bite
Insomnia, or sleep deprivation
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Joint pain, swelling
Light sensitivity (photophobia)Light, Sound, Odor Intolerance
Loss of muscle tone
Loss of temperature control
Low exercise tolerance
Lymph gland swelling
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Muscle pain or cramps
Nail spots (leukodynia)
Numbness and tingling
Pale Skin, China Doll look
Progressive Visual Deterioration
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Reflex Sympathetic Syndrome
Shortness of breath
Do you have some of these symptoms? Take our Lyme Disease Quiz today to find out if Lyme Disease could be the root cause of your health concerns.
In case you missed it, check out Part 1 of this article series here.