Lyme Disease is the "Great Imitator". Why should you care?

I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme and two co-infections in Dec. of 2017.  It sure helps explain the last 14 years when I experienced night sweats, low platelet counts, fatigue, hormone imbalance, weakness in my limbs, unexplained weight loss and the inability to sleep well.  This is not a post about my condition, it is one to raise awareness of a real threat that can seriously compromise your health.  I thought getting a double espresso at 3:00 in the afternoon was a normal fix for being tired.  It isn't.

I previously posted that the CDC is finally recognizing Lyme as a serious pandemic. Yes, a pandemic. They raised the infection level from 30,000 cases per year in the US to 329,000 cases per year.  Two years later they are thinking 400,000 in 2018, but is that estimate close to accurate?  You decide based on the statistics below.

Every disease has an expert in its field.  In the Lyme world one would be Dr. Richard Horowitz.  He has treated over 12,000 people with chronic Lyme.     

Below is taken from an interview with Dr. Horowitz.

-We know 5% of the 350 million people in the US are diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia.  Translated that is roughly 18 million people. They have chronic fatiguing and musculo-skeletal illness. Lyme symptoms include fatigue and musculo-skeletal illness.

-We also know 50 million people are diagnosed with auto-immune disease illness in the US and Lyme imitates rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and MS.  The vast majority of people I have seen with MS actually have Lyme disease.

-We know every 67 seconds in the US someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  We now know that Borrelia spiro is found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. (my mother died of Alzheimer’s, her brain was found to have Lyme and all the co-infections)

The reason we can’t estimate the true number of cases is because Lyme is imitating a broad range of other diseases including Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disease, as well as Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. When you put the numbers together we could be dealing with millions of cases of Lyme disease.  He believes upwards of 1-2 million cases per year.

Lyme is not a new disease. It has been found in Otzi the Neanderthal man over 5000 years ago.  The bacteria have existed for millions of years.  The issue is people are populating wooded areas, and imbalances in the ecosystems are increasing carrier populations. Deer, mice, birds, dogs carrying ticks from one place to the next.   Our ability to travel takes disease to other parts of the world.  In addition, the Earth is getting warmer and the tick and mosquito populations are exploding. Today’s ticks don’t just carry Borrelia (Lyme) they carry most of the co-infections as well.

Horowitz says the same is true in Europe.  When in France, Germany’s Black Forest is right across the way and they have over one million cases of Lyme in that region alone.  Several years ago, he went to China.  He was told six percent of their population have Lyme disease. There were 1.4 billion people in China at the time so that translates into 300 million people affected.

What you might not know about Lyme taken from Horowitz:

-Can Borrelia (Lyme) be passed through the blood supply?  We know that the blood supply can be contaminated with relapsing fever Borrelia, as well as Babesia, Anaplasma and Bartonella.  (these are all co-infections from ticks and none of them are good)

-Can Borrelia (Lyme) be passed from mother to child the womb? Yes, we have seen fetal death in women when they haven’t properly been treated for Lyme.

-Are Children safe playing in the yard? They are at risk when playing on lawns in endemic areas. They develop neuropsychological problems.

-Can it be sexually transmitted?  We don’t know the true risk but we have found borrelia in sperm and vaginal secretions.

It is important to understand that not all people who are bitten by an infected tick will become symptomatic. It comes down to the performance of your immune system.  If two people are bitten by the same Lyme carrying tick, they could display drastically different responses based on how their immune system responds to the invading pathogen.  One person’s system may kick into high gear while the other person’s system may kick back and allow the pathogens in. Therefore, someone like me can carry symptoms for years and years and not be acutely sick initially. No two people respond the same.

Here is the story you hear over and over. A person goes to the doctor. They complain of fatigue, aches, pain and joint issues.  The Doctor runs a blood panel and it's normal. The person leaves.  They know something is wrong.  They go to another doctor, and another to no avail.  This can be deeply frustrating to a person.  Are they crazy?

Finally, the doctor says you have “Chronic fatigue” or “Fibromyalgia”.  What is that anyway?  In my opinion it’s a junk label a doctor provides while offering “supportive therapy”.  The reality is they don’t have a clue what’s wrong with you.   Lyme is the “Great imitator”.  

Proper testing is the key. The ELISA and Western Blot are the most common tests used to diagnose Lyme disease. Both tests measure antibodies (proteins made by the immune system to fight infection) to, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. The issue is the ELISA has a 40% accuracy rate. This results in many "false negatives". The Western Blot is used to confirm the diagnosis. Today, the most accurate testing method is PCR testing.  PCR is designed to detect the DNA of the organism itself.  It looks for the bacterium DNA instead of the patient immune response to the bacterium.  Many Lyme Literate Doctors use DNA Connexions.  It is a simple urine test.  Once tested, you then look at symptoms to determine if you have active disease.

Have you been tested for Lyme disease? The fact that Lyme is the Great Imitator is why I ask.  People who have on-going issues including the ones named above, heavy metals and candida should be tested for Lyme. The DNA Connexions test is $ 500.00. It is not covered by insurance.   Accuracy matters. Had I known 14 years ago I had Lyme I would be in a better position today.  Your regular doctor unless he/she is Lyme Literate will know little to none of the above information.  Be your own advocate or be one for your family and friends. 

Here is something to know about ticks.  The tick needs to be embedded for at least 24 hours to infect you. It must feed before it can transmit disease. Most people do not remember being bitten by a tick.  Most disease is delivered by nymphs which is stage two of the deer tick's three stage, two year life. Most are so small you never see them.   If you are fortunate enough to see the tick, remove it immediately.  Dr. Jay Davidson stresses the importance of Tick removal.  You don’t use your fingers or flick them off.  Once the tick is embedded and feeding, we have all heard you use tweezers, get around the tick and pull straight up.  That doesn’t work well as ticks have serrated mouths.  Using tweezers pulls off the body and leaves the head embedded. Flicking off an embedded tick does the same thing. Other people try using rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, essential oils which causes the tick to vomit into your body before it detaches.  When the tick vomits in all these scenarios, it spews bacteria into your body.    

It matters how you remove the tick.  “Mimic its movements. Ticks twist their mouths in either direction to detach itself, so rotate the tick in a similar way to properly remove it.”  This is the kit I bought that had good reviews.

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If you do remove an embedded tick apply WO China Healing Oil by Systemic Formulas on the affected skin immediately.  Dr. Davidson says this will help destroy the spirochete form of Lyme disease.

I will end by saying ticks are everywhere, in all states (except Hawaii). You cannot run from them.  Chronic Lyme is not recognized by insurance companies. Partly because the CDC does not recognize Chronic Lyme nor are regular doctors’ literate about Lyme and what it can do to the human body. This makes it expensive to treat.

Lyme disease is not on most people’s radar.   It’s a beast.  Be forewarned. Be aware of your surroundings and how to deal with ticks.   

“Knowledge is Power”. Stay safe this summer.

Until next time.

Sat nam.