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Lyme Disease: To Eradicate It, We Must Fully Identify It

By Jody Smith HERWriter
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What we don't know about Lyme disease can hurt us. In fact, what we don't know can lead to disaster.

Lyme, often called "The Great Imitator", flaunts itself in a myriad of different guises, masquerading as other illnesses.

Lyme disease has been misdiagnosed as autism, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, bipolar disorder, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and depression.

It's passed itself off as dementia, fibromyalgia, Gulf War syndrome, lupus and multiple sclerosis.

It's been mistaken for obsessive compulsive disorder, Parkinsons' disease, rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia.

In actuality it's an infection transmitted by ticks carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, the corkscrew-shaped spirochete that causes Lyme disease.

The classic Lyme scenario is misleading. Infection isn't always a result of walking in the woods. Sufferers aren't always aware of a tick bite and, when they are, the bite doesn't always leave a bull's eye rash.

Monday (who asked that her last name not be used) is a Lyme sufferer in California, where people aren't "supposed" to get Lyme.

Monday says she and her siblings were born with it, infected pre-birth by their mother who later died of undiagnosed chronic Lyme. She says she then passed it on to her own daughter in the womb.

It's been believed that deer ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi were restricted to the Minnesota woods or the east coast. But the ticks' stomping grounds extend much farther.

In the past decade, Lyme-laden ticks have appeared in every state and around the world. There are five subspecies of Borrelia burgdorferi with over 100 strains in the U.S. and 300 strains globally.

Populated areas are not exempt. And deer are not the only accomplices.

According to research from the School of Public Health, 71 species of birds carrying black-legged ticks spread Lyme. The journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment says almost 60 percent of bird species infect ticks. So do chipmunks, mice and shrews.

Lonestar ticks of the Pacific coast also carry Borrelia burgdorferi.

And Borrelia burgdorferi isn't the only infectious agent these ticks carry.

Add a Comment8 Comments

Maryann Gromisch RN Guide

Hi Anonymous,
I am sorry to hear that your mother-in-law is so ill with Lyme disease that she is hospitalized. You can feel helpless when a loved one is suffering and you cannot "fix it". She must be receiving intravenous antibiotics to fight the infection and any other therapies depending on her symptoms. Just being there, by her bedside, offering comfort, conversation and love is the best medicine you can give her. I will keep her in my prayers, praying for a complete recovery and that she regains her strength.


August 16, 2011 - 4:17pm
EmpowHER Guest

My mother-in-law has just been diagnois with Lyme disease. She has been in the hospital for a week now. She is very sick and weak. Is there anything I can do to help her get through this.

August 15, 2011 - 6:12pm
EmpowHER Guest

Bravo Dr. S for taking on this disease and helping people. He is a hero and this will be his legacy.

December 12, 2010 - 9:43am
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for all the information. I was treated for Lyme back in 1994 after I found the "normal" symptom. However, I was only on amoxicillin for 10 days. About 2 years ago I started getting strange pains. Now I am being treated for Fibromyalgia. It seems like all of the FM symptoms match many of the L.D. symptoms. I'm now wondering if I'm being treated for the wrong thing. L.D. can be diagnosed via blood test - but FM is a clinical diagnosis. Time to find a doctor to run some blood tests!

October 23, 2010 - 6:20pm
Jody Smith HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Hi M.P.J.

Thanks for the link. And thanks for the additional information.

I appreciate your sharing some of your experience here. When so much of the medical world has been inadequate to tackle Lyme, the support and information sharing amongst chronic sufferers helps keep the whole Lyme community stronger and better equipped for the fight.

Thanks for writing.

August 27, 2010 - 8:47am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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