House Passes Lyme Disease Research Bill

•September 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from the Barnstable-Hyannis Patch : (9/12/2014)

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that would organize research for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

The Tick-borne Disease Research Transparency and Accountability Act of 2014 would help prevent the spreading of the disease in Massachusetts, which has some of the highest incident rates of Lyme disease in the country, Congressman William Keating said.

Under the bill, a group of Lyme physicians and patient advocates would work with the Secretary of Health and Human Services on a plan to submit to Congress in three years. The plan must improve the detection, treatment and prevention of tick-borne diseases.

“I know how devastating tick-borne diseases are for those who suffer from them,” said Keating, who cosponsored the bill and is a member of the Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease is spreading. Around 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each year, generally affecting children and senior citizens, the CDC reported.

For more: /

With more Lyme disease, public health experts call for more awareness, research

•September 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from the Portland Press Herald : (08/29/2014)

Lisa Lawlor spends most of her waking hours in bed, swallowing 25 pills each day to manage numerous Lyme disease-related symptoms. She receives antibiotics three times per day, intravenously into her left arm. Although she can walk, she often uses a wheelchair because she is so weak. The joint pain, inflammation and fatigue never completely go away, and the Saco resident often experiences nausea.

Lawlor’s symptoms are worse than most Lyme sufferers, but she’s far from alone in coping with the disease and its aftermath.

While Lyme disease is not new to Maine, the number of people diagnosed each year is growing rapidly. Broader public awareness, more research into how the disease works, and tools to treat and prevent it are needed, public health officials say.

Lyme disease diagnoses hit a record high of 1,376 cases in 2013, with this year shaping up to be similar to last year, according to officials with the Maine Centers for Disease Control. And many more Mainers are likely to have been bitten by ticks.

“Scientists believe it’s 10 times more prevalent than what is actually reported,” said Susan Elias, clinical research associate at Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s “tick lab.” If true, about 1 percent of Mainers per year will have contracted Lyme disease over the past two years.

The reason: Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by ticks, is often under-reported. The symptoms run the gamut, with some people shrugging off flu-like complaints after a week or two and others suffering for years with severe problems.

Public health officials are grappling with a disease that just a decade ago was diagnosed in fewer than 100 Mainers per year.

A new report by the National Wildlife Federation said warming global temperatures, caused by fossil fuel consumption, have increased the habitat available for ticks. Warmer winters, hotter summers and high temperatures that extend into autumn make conditions ripe for ticks to reproduce and spread.

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Commentary: Lyme Disease, in all fairness, we need more awareness

•August 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Occasionally, I peruse the stats on this BLOG to see what’s trending. Not surprisingly, the most popular subject over the past couple of weeks has been “Lyme and ALS” ( ).   Obviously, the fund raising sensation “The ALS ice bucket challenge” has not only turned our neighbors and celebrities into refreshing summer cocktails, but has also sparked a welcoming interest in ALS.

It pleases me to see ALS diagnosed patients consider Lyme disease (LD) as a possible cause of their illness.  Lymies have suggested this connection for some time, but then again, us Lymies think most ills are the result of LD. And why not, with the CDC now admitting that there about 300,000 new cases in the U.S. each year, and that many of these cases are misdiagnosed as ALS, MS, Parkinson’s, etc. We all should be wary.

The Ice Bucket Challenge certainly is a Marketing and Fundraising phenomena. Getting the masses to film themselves doing a torturous act based on a dare seems more in line with Steve-O of “Jackass” fame than a national fundraising campaign.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if to raise awareness for LD in a similar way? What would such a campaign look like? Maybe posting a selfie made-up like a zombie would be fun. We could include a caption like, “THE LYME UNDEAD: BECAUSE THE DOCTOR HAD THE MOXY TO NOT TRY DOXY,”.

Of course, there are plenty of better ideas floating out there. Let’s see what we can do..





Lyme disease risk is year-round in Northwest California, according to new study

•August 20, 2014 • 3 Comments

Excerpted from the EurakAlert: (08/19/2014)

SILICON VALLEY, Calif., August 19, 2014 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, which aims to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, applauds new research published in an upcoming issue of the Elsevier peer review journal Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases. The findings show that ticks that carry Lyme disease in Northwest California are active throughout the year, making the threat of Lyme disease year-round. The research was conducted by researchers at California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Vector-borne Disease Section and University of California, Berkeley (UC-B).

“These results are critical as they offer proof that it is possible to become infected with Lyme disease in the Bay Area at any time of the year,” said Linda Giampa, Executive Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “It underscores the need for residents to take precautions year-round and know the symptoms of the disease. While the threat in Northwest California is lower, it’s more constant than the Northeast USA.”

The findings suggest that the timing of peak tick activity of Western Black-legged ticks (Ixodes pacificus), which are the ticks most commonly known to carry Lyme disease in Northwest California is largely predictable and year-round. In general, tick larvae (young ticks) are active April to June, and sometimes activity extends into October, while adult ticks are active from October to May. From January to October, nymphal ticks (which are younger and smaller than adult ticks but older than larvae) become active.

Interestingly, the highest reported incidence of Lyme disease in humans in Northwest California correlate to the times when the younger, smaller ticks (nymphal I. pacificus), which are smaller than a poppy seed, are most active.

“Based on these results, tick season in Northwestern California is longer than even we expected and quite different from patterns in the Northeast USA,” said Daniel Salkeld, PhD, a Public Health Biologist formerly with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Vector-borne Disease Section, and currently a Research Scientist, Colorado State University. Dr. Salkeld was an author of the recent study published in a journal of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that found that ticks carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, are widespread in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation. He is now supported by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation to continue research into the ecology of ticks and their pathogens in California.

Compounding the growing problem of Lyme disease in northwestern California is that the host animals that most commonly carry Lyme disease are also active throughout the year and often live for extended periods of time, compared to host animals in the Northeast United States. In the Northeast, few white footed mice, the host animals that most commonly carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in that region of the country, live through the cold winters. By contrast, the host animals that most commonly carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in California, western gray squirrel and dusky-footed wood rat often live longer than one year and can carry the bacteria throughout the year.

For more: /

Runners and Lyme Disease

•June 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from the Runner’s World: (06/19/2014)


The pain, like a screwdriver twisting hotly through her knee, was excruciating. And the swelling, well, you could see it ballooning through her pants.

Angela Coulombe, 42, had just run the 2007 Beach to Beacon–a 10-K along the picturesque coast of her hometown, Portland, Maine. She thought she had simply reignited an old injury (she had knee surgery back in high school). So she did what any athlete would do: rested, iced, and popped ibuprofen for a week. When that didn’t help, she headed to the physical therapist. An MRI revealed nothing beyond unspecified knee inflammation. She began physical therapy, but a month in, the pain and swelling only worsened.

Then came the nausea, migraines, and fatigue. Coulombe’s feet, elbows, shoulders, and back ached so much she couldn’t sleep. She felt horrible and needed her mother’s help to get her two young sons off to school in the morning, while her boss let her do some of her Web design work from home.

Three months after the 10-K, Coulombe noticed a red rash on her upper arm. Her mother looked at the bull’s-eye shape and said the two words that would change Coulombe’s life: Lyme disease. “As soon as she said that, I was like, Oh, my gosh, now all these symptoms make sense,” Coulombe says, even though she couldn’t recall having been bitten by a tick. “I thought, Oh, thank God. Lyme disease–there’s a cure for this. This is awesome.”

But it didn’t take long for her to realize that it wasn’t awesome at all.

For more: /


Can Lyme disease be transmitted through sexual contact?

•June 8, 2014 • 3 Comments

We have known that the spirochetal Lyme bacterium resembles syphilis for some time now, so this new study should come as no surprise.  It’s unfortunate that the CDC continues to deny the risk.


For more and the video: /


Lyme Disease’s Possible Bacterial Predecessor Found in Ancient Tick

•June 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from the Scientific American: (06/05/2014)

Ancient evidence of a familiar foe has emerged in a fossil tick infested with what appears to be spirochetes, a group of rotini-shaped bacteria responsible formany human diseases. The spirochetes in question closely resemble those of modern-day Borrelia, the genus responsible for Lyme disease. The finding, recently described in Historical Biology, could offer insight into the evolutionary history of the Lyme disease–causing pathogen that plagues people today, but is also notable for its novelty.

“This is the first evidence of spirochetes in a fossil tick prior to Homo,” says George Poinar, Jr., a paleoentomologist and parasitologist at Oregon State University, and author of the new paper. Although Lyme disease did not exist back then, the spirochetes in the fossil tick probably contributed to the genetic diversity of the 12 or more species of Borrelia that cause Lyme and similar diseases today, he says.

Parasites represent at least half of all modern animal species, and that distribution probably held true millions of years ago, too. “In a sense, this [finding] is not surprising since virtually every species on the planet is parasitized,” says Armand Kuris, a parasitologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was not involved in the study. Evidence of those ancient parasite–host associations is difficult to come by, however. “In terms of finding any kind of physical documentation in the fossil record, that’s really rare—especially for a microbial pathogen,” Kuris says. “That’s what makes this paper just plain interesting.”

The spirochete-carrying tick—a juvenile—turned up in a 15-million- to 20-million-year-old piece of amber, along with three other young ticks that did not reveal any spirochetes. Poinar acquired the specimen nearly 25 years ago during a visit to the Dominican Republic’s amber mines. It was not until he recently took a closer look with a powerful compound microscope—magnifying the specimen up to 1,000 times—that he noticed the tiny ticks within.

For more: /


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