Lyme Disease Teaching/Information Booklet – By John Scott – Printable
Lyme Ontario Brochure – Printable
About Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a “Borreliosis” which is a multi-systemic illness caused by a spirochete of the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato family of bacteria. Our current 2-tiered method of testing is faulty- we currently test for one Borrelia species – “B31”. There is current Canadian research showing a new strain, “Borrelia Miyamotoi” found in ticks across Canada, which also causes a “Lyme-like” illness and there is no current testing for it in Canada. The are many strains or genospecies (subspecies) of Borrelia that cause Lyme disease (borreliosis) in humans. There are over 300 strains worldwide. This diversity is thought to contribute to the antigenic variability of the spirochete and its ability to evade the immune system and antibiotic therapy, leading to chronic infection.
Ixodes ticks are the main vector of Borrelia, especially the nymph stage (about the size of a poppy seed) as people are less likely to see them; however, other modes of transmission have been studied. Borrelia has been found in urine, tears, semen and vaginal fluids. Safe sex is advised. During pregnancy, Bb can cross the placenta to the unborn child and may also be transmitted via breast milk. Likewise, spirochetes can be transmitted to a person by drinking unpasteurized, Bb-infected milk. Bb can be transmitted to the recipient during a blood transfusion.
Borrelia burgdorferi penetrates the blood, tissues and organs of various infected mammals and birds. In nature, Borrelia burgdorferi exists in small and larger animals like mice and deer. When a tick has a first blood meal on an infected animal, often a small one like a rodent, the tick can get infected. The tick can transfer the spirochetes over to another animal on their next blood meal, usually a larger animal like a deer, pet and also humans and other warm blooded animals. An infection with Borrelia burgdorferi can cause Lyme disease in humans, dogs, cats, horses, and other animals. After traveling in the blood the bacteria quickly leave to infect the tissues etc., as they do not like the oxygenated environment.
Often subjected to debate, aside from the usual motile spirochete form of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, there is research that suggests they may also exist in other forms such as:
• Cystic form in which the spirochetes are encysted in a protective sheath (like a cocoon), and wherein the cell wall may be missing or altered. Also, there may be dormant (latent) cells of Borrelia burgdorferi that don’t reproduce and are hardly active for many months. In such cases successful treatment of Lyme disease with antibiotics may be more difficult, especially when co-infections are present.
• Cell wall deficient forms (CWD-form) of Borrelia burgdorferi.
• There is also research suggesting that Borrelia burgdorferi creates biofilms that help it survive from the immune system and antibiotics.
The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) surveillance criteria for Lyme disease were devised to track a narrow band of cases for epidemiologic purposes. As stated on the CDC website, the surveillance criteria were never intended to be used as diagnostic criteria, nor were they meant to define the entire scope of Lyme disease. The ELISA screening test is unreliable; it has an accuracy of 4% – 65%. The test misses 35% of culture proven Lyme disease (only 65% sensitivity) and is unacceptable as the first step of a two-step screening protocol. By definition, a screening test should have at least 95% sensitivity. If tested too soon, there will be no antibodies; too late, no antibodies, (as the bacteria uses the blood for transportation but, leaves to enter organs and tissues). Clinical evidence shows transmission of Borrelia in less than 6 hours, however it’s less likely to occur before 24 hours. Daily checks and prompt, proper removal of an attached tick will help prevent infection.
Early symptoms of infection can include flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, jaw pain, stiff neck and sore or swollen joints, possible rash. (please see full symptom list below)
*30% – 50% will get a rash of any kind and only 9% of those will get the well known “bulls-eye” rash. Only 10% of children will get a rash of any kind. The most common is a homogeneously coloured oval lesion (ILADS). Lyme disease is more treatable in the early stage of infection. If untreated the infection may become dormant and then again become active after weeks, months or years. As time progresses it becomes more difficult to diagnose and treat and can mimic other illnesses. Testing for other tick-borne infections such as (but not limited to) Babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Bartonella, Mycoplasma, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Powassan Virus; should also be performed.
Lyme Ontario recommends the use of Laboratories who specialize in Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses – these can include:
Lyme disease, also called Lyme Borreliosis, is on the rise and is the fastest growing vector borne disease in North America; far surpassing AIDS and West Nile Virus. The USA CDC now admits case numbers are reaching 300,000 (in the USA) per year.
In Ontario alone the Public Health Agency of Canada notes 7 known Lyme endemic areas: Point Pelee National Park, Rondeau Provincial Park, Turkey Point Provincial Park, Long Point peninsula including Long Point Provincial Park and the National Wildlife area, Wainfleet bog region near Welland, Prince Edward Point, Parts of the Thousand Islands National Park. Their 2012 study estimates that by the year 2020, 80%of eastern Canada will be living in areas with established tick populations and our organization works diligently to try to match the demands of this endemic illness.
2) Check your clothes for ticks often. Ticks will climb upwards until they find an area of exposed skin.
3) Wear light coloured clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.
4) Walk on pathways or trails when possible staying in the middle. Avoid low-lying brush or long grass.
5) Apply insect repellent to your skin and clothing, especially at the openings such as ankle, wrist and neck. It is our personal experience that repellents containing DEET do not work! We recommend other natural forms of repellent; many of which use essential oils proven to repel ticks.
MOST IMPORTANTLY – Perform a “Tick Check” daily: Ticks thrive in warm moist environments. It is important to check:
Between the toes, behind the knees, private areas, armpits, belly button, in the ears, nape of the neck, and in the hair.
• Ticks will survive laundering so use the dryer on high for 1/2 – 1 hr – the heat kills them.
• Ticks can over winter due to the anti-freeze-like compounds their bodies possess.
• Studies show ticks can survive being submerged in water for 2-3 days
|Head, Face, Neck
Unexplained hair loss
Headache, mild or severe, seizures
Pressure in head, white matter lesions in brain (MRI)
Twitching of facial or other muscles
Facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy, Horner’s syndrome)
Tingling of nose, (tip of) tongue, cheek or facial flushing
Stiff or painful neck
Jaw pain or stiffness
Sore throat, clearing throat a lot, phlegm (flem), hoarseness, runny nose
Double or blurry vision
Increased floating spots
Pain in eyes, or swelling around eyes
Oversensitivity to light
Flashing lights, peripheral waves or phantom images in corner of eyes
Decreased hearing in one or both ears, plugged ears
Buzzing in ears
Pain in ears, oversensitivity to sounds
Ringing in one or both ears
|Digestive and Excretory Systems
Irritable bladder (trouble starting, stopping) or interstitial cystitis
Upset stomach (nausea or pain) or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
Bone pain, joint pain or swelling, carpal tunnel syndrome
Stiffness of joints, back, neck, tennis elbow
Muscle pain or cramps, (Fibromyalgia)
|Respiratory and Circulatory Systems
Shortness of breath, can’t get full/satisfying breath, cough
Chest pain or rib soreness
Night sweats or unexplained chills
Heart palpitations or extra beats
Endocarditis, heart blockage
Tremors or unexplained shaking
Burning or stabbing sensations in the body
Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, weakness, peripheral neuropathy or partial paralysis
Pressure in the head
Numbness in body, tingling, pinpricks
Poor balance, dizziness, difficulty walking
Increased motion sickness
Mood swings, irritability, bi-polar disorder
Disorientation (getting or feeling lost)
Feeling as if you are losing your mind
Over-emotional reactions, crying easily
Too much sleep, or insomnia
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Narcolepsy, sleep apnea
Panic attacks, anxiety
Memory loss (short or long term)
Confusion, difficulty thinking
Difficulty with concentration or reading
Going to the wrong place
Speech difficulty (slurred or slow)
Difficulty finding commonly used words
Forgetting how to perform simple tasks
|Reproduction and Sexuality
Loss of sex drive
Unexplained menstrual pain, irregularity
Unexplained breast pain, discharge
Testicular or pelvic pain
Unexplained weight gain or loss
Swollen glands or lymph nodes
Unexplained fevers (high or low grade)
Continual infections (sinus, kidney, eye, etc.)
Symptoms seem to change, come and go
Pain migrates (moves) to different body parts
Early on, experienced a “flu-like” illness, after which you have not since felt well
Low body temperature
Allergies or chemical sensitivities
Increased effect from alcohol and possible worse hangover
Dr. Horowitz’s Symptoms Chart
As noted above, testing for Lyme disease is not 100% and with the current testing limitations, diagnosis is clinical. Many times patients receive a negative test result when in fact the bacteria is present; alternatively some patients receive a false positive test although this is less common. It is important to know that the EM rash is pathognomonic of Lyme disease and requires no further verification prior to starting an appropriate course of antibiotic therapy.
ILADS Basic Information about Lyme Disease
Testing for other tick associated organisms such as: Babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia and Bartonella, should be performed. *It is important to note that testing for the co-infections is also not 100% and there are symptoms specific to these co-infections as well. (please see our Tick Identification page) The presence of co-infection with these organisms points to probable infection with the Lyme spirochete as well. If these co-infections are left untreated, their continued presence increases morbidity and prevents successful treatment of Lyme disease.
The Public Health Agency of Canada advises: “Diagnosis – In general, the diagnosis of Lyme disease is principally clinical, reinforced by a history of tick exposure in an endemic area. Detection of antibodies against B. burgdorferi using the two-tiered testing method described below is an additional diagnostic tool; however acute disease can be diagnosed without laboratory confirmation. Click here to download the full PDF
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care website states: “After the tick has been removed, place it in screw-top bottle (like a pill vial or film canister), and take it to your doctor or local health unit. They can send it to the Ontario Public Health Laboratory for identification.”
If the tick is identified as a black-legged tick, they will test it and your Physician can be notified if it tests positive for the Borrelia bacteria. This testing takes time and it is recommended with a known tick bite that preventative antibiotics be administered.
ILADS Lyme Disease Treatment Guidelines Summary
Diagnostic Hints and Treatment Guidelines for Lyme and Other Tick Borne Illnesses
Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme borreliosis
New Standard of Care Guidelines for Treating Lyme and Other Tick-borne Illnesses
Many patients have found successful treatment with Naturopathic Doctors trained in treating tick-borne illnesses. These modalities involve a more holistic approach.
Beginner’s Guide to Lyme Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment Made Simple, The – by Nicola McFadzean ND and Dr. Joseph J. Burrascano Jr. M.D.
Beyond Lyme Disease: Healing the Underlying Causes of Chronic Illness in People with Borreliosis and Co-Infections – by Connie Strasheim and Lee Cowden MD
Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic – by Pamela Weintraub
Healing Lyme Disease Coninfections – by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme Borreliosis and Its Coinfections – by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Lab 257 – The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Germ Laboratory – by Michael Christopher Carroll
Out of the Woods: Healing from Lyme Disease for Body, Mind, and Spirit – by Katina I. Makris and Richard I. Horowitz
Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada – by Vanessa Farnsworth
When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide – by by Sandra K Berenbaum (Author), Dorothy Kupcha Leland
Why Can’t I Get Better – Solving the Mystery of Lyme & Chronic Diseases – by Richard I. Horowitz, M.D.