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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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Lyme Disease May Day Protest Biggest in Years

•May 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from the (05/20/2014)

This month is home of the Lyme disease May Day protest at the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, which is the biggest anticipated event in years. Victims of chronic Lyme disease and misdiagnoses are urged to join this two-day protest on May 22. The assembly will demand the IDSA to overturn the poor guidelines that were a matter of investigation and allegation not long ago. Thousands of patients have reported suffering due to these guidelines, and here is why:

Ross Anderson, patient at Providence Internal Medicine Residency and founder of the movement Lyme Patients vs. CDC Class Action Suit and The Pacific Northwest Multiple Sclerosis Research Fund, fought long and hard for treatment. One of his tests came back positive, and further testing following treatment they alleged was negative. Was the test really negative? Were they even the correct tests? Here is what Mary Noble MD, FACP Director of Ambulatory Care had to say:

“We have been advised this lab (IgeneX) does good quality testing, but their parameters for deciding that tests are positive or negative are not consistent with CDC standards. Therefore, we cannot use this lab for our patients because the test results would not be meaningful to us.”

One of the organizers of this protest is a long-time sufferer of chronic Lyme disease, and he hopes this May Day event will be the biggest in years as it has been pre-planned to a great extent. Activists are even expected to head to the United States Capitol during session this time next year.

Josh Cutler, another victim and the lead organizer of this project was a successful engineer for the federal government before deciding to fight the corruption and negligence in medical diagnostics. In 2006, he recalled a tick bite, but like most at that time he was not worried. A week later, however, as is common, he presented with a flu-like illness. Testing came back negative for Lyme. Cutler suffered black-outs, brain-fog, and was eventually confined to a wheelchair. He became so infected and sick he was rushed to the emergency room on several different occasions.

An IgeneX test revealed he indeed suffered from chronic Lyme with infections of Babesia and Bartonella as were confirmed. A board certified doctor of Holistic Medicine, Dr. Stewart, who reportedly practiced Sports Medicine for the Redskins previously, now solely focuses on healing chronic Lyme patients and was Cutler’s provider.

IDSA Caught Red-Handed

The ISDA guidelines have a sweeping and significant impact on Lyme disease medical care. This even applies to insurance companies, thus restricting coverage for chronic Lyme and long-term antibiotic treatment, or other forms of treatment.

Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, discovered a major problem during his investigation in 2006.

The IDSA’s Lyme guideline process lacked crucial procedural safeguards to the degree they required complete reevaluation. U

nfortunately, the new panel created for this reevaluation also lapsed efficacy in its very own purpose.


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FRONTLINE investigates the rise of deadly drug-resistant bacteria.

•May 11, 2014 • 2 Comments

2 Investigates: Doctors warn of rise in spread of Lyme disease

•May 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from (05/08/2014)

Some Bay Area doctors call Lyme disease a hidden epidemic. Once thought rare in California, Lyme disease appears to be all too common.

Its devastating symptoms can begin as long as several years after exposure. Scott Athearn believes a tick bite from more than a decade ago may have caused his stubborn health problems.

The 50-year-old developer says his neurologic symptoms and fatigue got worse and worse, but his doctors couldn’t diagnose it.

“It probably took me about five and a half, six years from when I started noticing, testing, all the way through until we said yes, it’s Lyme,” he said.

Athearn has been on antibiotics for more than four years. He says he’s  now feeling better but he’s worried about his two younger daughters who were also diagnosed with Lyme, but were never bitten by a tick.

“The doctors believe that you could possibly transmit it through conception. So it’s just  kind of ironic to have two children with Lyme and I have Lyme. How did they get it?” Athearn asked.

The Centers for Disease Control says that some patients can be unaware of having been bitten because ticks that transmit Lyme disease are extremely small. But the agency also warns that some patients may falsely test negative for the disease initially, depending on the stage of the infection.

Last year a study funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation and the CDC’s Journal Emerging Infectious Diseases confirmed Lyme disease was discovered in every Bay Area county except San Francisco. The CDC now reports Lyme disease is likely 10 times more common than officially diagnosed.

According to Doctor John Aucott, President of the Lyme Disease Research Foundation and a John Hopkins physician, “there are many more new cases of Lyme disease. More than any reportable infectious disease including HIV/AIDS”. He says there are more cases than even breast cancer, but Dr. Aucott said Lyme disease gets almost no funding.

“The diagnostic tests are not very good. The treatment is not standardized and not very effective” said San Francisco Doctor Raphael Stricker who treats about 2,000 Lyme disease patients. He just completed a small study which is not yet published, showing an alarming way Lyme disease may be transmitted. “It’s very likely Lyme disease is spread by direct contact from person to person” Stricker said.

He says Lyme bacteria, the spirochetes, are similar to Syphilis and could be passed from mother to child through blood transfusions or unprotected sex. “We found that the same Lyme bacteria are in the secretions of both partners which suggests it is being passed back and forth” Stricker argues.

Medical experts say more research is needed to confirm person to person infection. But Stricker says it could help explain today’s surge in Lyme cases.

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