Lyme disease needs a new name, stat. The name has nothing to do with the disease aside from being “discovered” in the town of Lyme, Connecticut. (It actually existed way before that, it was just called several different things.) The name Lyme often gets confused with it’s citrusy counterpart – Lime, and gives a misleading ‘put the lime in the coconut’ kind of vibe to the illness. Kind of like calling your growling, teeth-baring pit bull “Candy” – it just doesn’t fit. (Although we can get some cool memes out of it..!)
What makes Lyme disease difficult to explain is that there a different “kinds” of Lyme, just like there are different “kinds” of cancer (leukemia, lymphoma, etc). But unlike cancer, there are currently no simple terms to differentiate the type of Lyme you might have (oh ya – and no testing to determine which kind you have too. Huh!). So with that said, I will try to explain Lyme in the simplest terms possible for such a complex disease.
Lyme is a species of bacteria. The bacteria are called Borrelia.
The bacteria are spiral shaped (known as a spirochete) and they look like squiggles under a microscope. Picture sperm without the big head; Lyme bacteria move or propel themselves similar to sperm. (Gross!!!)
And these nasties can move fast. Lyme bacteria can spread from the site of the tick bite & fully invade the central nervous system within 24 hours. Bastards.
There are different species of Borrelia (Lyme bacteria):
Borrelia burgdorferi (most common in Canada & the States)
Borrelia miyamotoi (a newly discovered species in the States)
Borrelia hermsii (mostly in Africa, Asia & some parts of the States)
In each species of Borrelia (Lyme) there can be many different “strains”. Current research is finding additional strains of Lyme bacteria within each species. (There are about 100 different strains in the US and about 300 world wide.) Health Canada & American CDC tests for only ONE “strain” of Lyme. The current BEST tests (Igenix) check for less than a dozen of those “strains”. (Wonder why so many cases don’t get diagnosed??)
To complicate the matter of Lyme disease further is that almost no one has “pure” Lyme. The tick that gives you the Lyme bacteria also transmits other infections. Ticks are like the “dirty needles” of the insect world. Ticks get Lyme bacteria & other infections from the animals they feed on, like mice, deer, foxes, racoons, birds & squirrels, picking up any infection(s) those animals have. Then when they bite a human they transmit all those infections in one lovely bite. Anyone hungry?
Some of the known Co-Infections of Lyme disease are:
Babesia (most common)
Is similar to malaria causing fatigue, malaise, weakness, fevers, chills, excessing sweating, day & night sweats.
Mycroplasma (same as Gulf War syndrome)
Causes symptoms of increased fatigue, joint & muscle pain. And can cause symptoms similar to ALS.
Bartonella (the cat-scratch disease)
Causes rash, swollen lymph nodes, can increase neurological symptoms and can cause lesions that look like stretch marks.
Causes high fever, sever headaches, flulike symptoms, muscle pains & fatigue.
Like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, typhus &/or Q fever.
Is a bacterial infection where people aren’t able to sit up or walk without help.
STARI (or Master’s disease)
Causes fever, chills, body aches, runny nose, sore throat & headaches. Can also present like pneumonia or gastrointestinal infection.
Causes high fevers, sweats, headaches, cough, GI symptoms.
If there are tests that exist for any of these co-infections, they aren’t always precise, making diagnosis very difficult.
I’m not done yet…. Lyme disease gets even worse. They can also awaken or reactivate infections that are already in your body, but have gone dormant. They can be bacterial, parasitic, viral or fungal infections. Some examples are:
Epstein-Barr, HHV-6 (causes roseola), West Nile, Candida (fungal overgrowth in GI tract), Leaky-gut syndrome, Morgellons (skin) disease (Joni Mitchell’s condition).
Ok, now I’m done… Not!
Aside from the utter lack of testing available, there are yet more factors that come in to play that makes diagnosing the specific “type” of Lyme disease you have. A quick recap from above:
Determining which type of Lyme bacteria species and strain you have.
Determining the type(s) of co-infections the tick gave you along with the Lyme bacteria.
….And the other contributing factors are:
How many tick bites you received.
Each person’s individual genetic code & their present immune system status.
Each person’s toxin load (such as heavy metals) & the liver’s detoxing abilities.
Confused? Me too…. Want to know what “kind” of Lyme I have? Get in line… 😉
I will probably never know. Luckily some of the treatment that kills the Lyme can also kill the co-infection(s). Wow, that sounds really easy. Treating Lyme is about as easy as explaining it is. So that will be another story….!
Source: Why Can’t I Get Better? Solving the Mystery Of Lyme & Chronic Disease: by, Richard I. Horowitz. MD.