Do Microbes Trigger Alzheimer’s Disease?

•September 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from The Scentist :  (09/01/2017)

In late 2011, Drexel University dermatology professor Herbert Allen was astounded to read a new research paper documenting the presence of long, corkscrew-shape bacteria called spirochetes in postmortem brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.1 Combing data from published reports, the International Alzheimer Research Center’s Judith Miklossy and colleagues had found evidence of spirochetes in 451 of 495 Alzheimer’s brains. In 25 percent of cases, researchers had identified the spirochete as Borrelia burgdorferi, a causative agent of Lyme disease. Control brains did not contain the spirochetes.

The study made Allen think back to 40 years earlier, when he was an intern at Johns Hopkins University and had treated a patient diagnosed with neurosyphilis, a neurological syndrome that included dementia and resulted from the invasion of the syphilis spirochete into the brain. “The parallel between Lyme disease and syphilis had me intrigued,” he says.

Allen had recently proposed a novel role for biofilms—colonies of bacteria that adhere to surfaces and are largely resistant to immune attack or antibiotics—in eczema. He suggested that because biofilms block skin ducts and trigger innate immune responses, they may cause the stubborn skin condition. Allen knew of recent work showing that Lyme spirochetes form biofilms,2which led him to wonder if biofilms might also play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. When Allen stained for biofilms in brains from deceased Alzheimer’s patients, he found them in the same hippocampal locations as amyloid plaques.3 Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), a key player in innate immunity, was also present in the same region of the Alzheimer’s brains but not in the controls. He hypothesizes that TLR2 is activated by the presence of bacteria, but is locked out by the biofilm and damages the surrounding tissue instead.

Spirochetes, common members of the oral microbiome, belong to a small set of microbes that cross the blood-brain barrier when they’re circulating in the blood, as they are during active Lyme infections or after oral surgery. However, the bacteria are so slow to divide that it can take decades to grow a biofilm. This time line is consistent with Alzheimer’s being a disease of old age, Allen reasons, and is corroborated by syphilis cases in which the neuroinvasive effects of spirochetes might appear as long as 50 years after primary infection.

Allen’s work contributes to the revival of a long-standing hypothesis concerning the development of Alzheimer’s. For 30 years, a handful of researchers have been pursuing the idea that pathogenic microbes may serve as triggers for the disease’s neuropathology. Most came across the connection serendipitously, as Allen did, and some have made it their life’s work, in spite of scathing criticism and related challenges in attracting funding and publishing results.

For more: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/50208/title/Do-Microbes-Trigger-Alzheimer-s-Disease-/

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Fighting Lyme disease: In R.I., a dose of antibiotic without a prescription

•July 30, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from Providence Journal:  (07/29/2017)

Program allows S. Kingst wn pharmacy to offer drug for tick bites meeting strict criteria: It must be a deer tick of a certain size found within 72 hours of the bite

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — A family-owned pharmacy in this seaside town recently began dispensing antibiotics to people without prescriptions to reduce the risk of developing Lyme disease.

Green Line Apothecary announced in late June that it is offering the single 200-mg prophylactic dose of doxycycline to adults within 72 hours of a deer tick bite if they meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria for infection risk.

Proponents of the program — reportedly the first of its kind in the country — say it serves an important public health need by expanding timely access to treatment that could prevent more people from developing the potentially debilitating disease. And they hope it will become a national model.

But experts caution that expanding access to antibiotics to prevent Lyme disease may do more harm than good. Most people who will get the preventative treatment, they say, would likely never have developed Lyme disease. For those who are infected, some doctors worry a prophylactic dose may not be enough to prevent the patient from getting sick. And misuse or overuse of antibiotics can contribute to another major public health problem: antibiotic resistance.

The pharmacy program follows passage of legislation by the Rhode Island General Assembly in 2016 that expands pharmacists’ role to include initiation of drug therapies under so-called collaborative practice agreements.

The state health department’s approval of the Green Line program comes amid growing public concern over Lyme disease, which each year is diagnosed in roughly 30,000 people in the country, 95 percent of them in 14 states including Rhode Island, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2015, Rhode Island reported 904 diagnosed cases of Lyme disease, the 11th-highest rate in the country, according to the CDC.

“As a state we are always looking at ways to be proactive in reducing the incidence of Lyme disease,″ said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the state health director who, on June 12, signed a two-year collaborative practice agreement with Green Line. The pharmacy program, she said, is “one of those approaches.”

Washington County is Rhode Island’s ground zero for Lyme disease, with nearly twice the statewide rate, state health data show.

“Everybody knows someone who has been impacted by Lyme,” said Anita N. Jacobson, a pharmacist and clinical associate professor at the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy.

Christina Procaccianti, a pharmacist and Green Line’s owner, is one of those people. The vintage-style pharmacy and soda fountain opened in 2016 on Main Street in Wakefield.

Procaccianti, 34, contracted Lyme disease in 2011, while she was pregnant. After an eight-week course of antibiotics, she said, she made a full recovery and delivered a healthy baby girl. “I know how awful Lyme is,”

she said.“If we can prevent it for anybody,” she said, the effort will be a success.

 

Shania Twain opens up about contracting ‘debilitating’ Lyme disease that led to vocal issues

•July 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from National Post:  (07/07/2017)

TORONTO — Shania Twain is cautioning nature lovers to immediately seek treatment if they suspect they’ve been bitten by a tick.

The Canadian country music superstar, who recently revealed she’s battling complications from Lyme disease as a result of a tick bite over 10 years ago, says there’s “a very short window to catch it and then treat it.”

Twain says even when you treat it, you could still be left with symptoms, which is what happened to her.

Twain, who recently released the single “Life’s About to Get Good” off her upcoming album “Shania Now,” notes Lyme is “a debilitating disease” that “you can’t play around with.”

The Timmins, Ont., native says she saw a tick fall off her in Norfolk, Va., during her 2003-04 “Up!” tour.

She recalls becoming dizzy in the ensuing days and almost falling off the stage while performing.

Twain says her contracting Lyme disease led to a vocal cord disorder for which she’s had to have physiotherapy.

“Normally it can attack your nervous system or the vital organs — heart, liver, kidneys, nervous system,” she said in a phone interview on Thursday.

For more: http://nationalpost.com/news/national/shania-twain-on-contracting-debilitating-lyme-disease-that-led-to-vocal-issues/wcm/e11279f5-4d89-4bc4-951c-67f24291887c

Lyme Disease: Inside America’s Mysterious Epidemic

•June 26, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from Rolling Stone:  (06/10/2017)

In 2004, Kelly Osbourne was bitten by a tick. Her dad burned it off with a match and that, she thought, was the end of that.

But in the years that followed, she suffered from persistent body aches, headaches, stomach pain and trouble sleeping. In 2013, she had a seizure on the set of her show, Fashion Police. As her symptoms piled up, so did the prescriptions: Ambien, Trazodone, anti-seizure medications, even painkillers, despite her past addiction issues. The pills robbed her of her energy and emotions. “You know in movies where a mental patient sits in a rocking chair in a cardigan and nightgown and stares at a wall all day?” Osbourne wrote in her new memoir, There Is No F*cking Secret: Letters From a Badass Bitch. “That was me.”

As a last resort, Osbourne consulted an alternative medicine practitioner and asked to be tested for Lyme disease. The test came back positive: she had stage III neurological Lyme. Osbourne immediately flew to Germany to receive stem cell therapy. She kept her diagnosis private, she writes, “not only for fear of pharmaceutical companies coming after me because of the cure I found in Germany but also because it seems like the trendy disease to have right now.”

As unlikely as it seems that a tick-borne illness could ever be deemed “trendy,” Osbourne is right: Lyme disease is having a moment.

In recent years, a growing list of celebrities have gone public with their Lyme diagnoses. In the 2013 documentary The Punk Singer, Kathleen Hanna emerged from a nearly decade-long hiatus to reveal her excruciating battle with Lyme disease. “I didn’t want to face the fact that I was really sick,” she told the camera, tearing up. “I wanted to tell everybody I chose to stop [performing], but I didn’t choose.” Then there was Avril Lavigne on the cover of People magazine in 2015, gazing out pensively over the headline, “I thought I was dying.” In 2016, there was the news that Kris Kristofferson’s tragic memory loss wasn’t due to Alzheimer’s after all; it was Lyme. There was the multiple season storyline on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills about Yolanda Hadid’s battle with Lyme, the accusations she was faking it, and then the shocking news that her supermodel daughter Bella and son Anwar had Lyme, too.

Lyme has been a known disease for several decades, but only in the past five years has it forced its way into cultural and medical relevance and become something that’s widely discussed. Lyme is now the focus of A-list fundraising galas and E! News headlines. Unfortunately, the increased attention hasn’t translated to a more hopeful prognosis for Lyme sufferers. Roughly 329,000 new infections occur annually, and scientists are projecting a historic spike in infections around the country this summer. For a disease that’s been studied for 40 years, with many prominent people pushing for answers, the truly shocking thing about Lyme disease is how much of a mystery it still is.

“There’s an incredible amount of detail and nuance to the Lyme disease story,” says Taal Levi, assistant professor of quantitative wildlife ecology at Oregon State University. “Anyone who tells you there’s a simple answer is lying to you.”

For more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/lyme-disease-inside-americas-mysterious-epidemic-w487776

The Coming Pandemic of Lyme Dementia

•May 31, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from Psychology Today :  (05/29/2017)

There are many known causes of dementia. One of these causes are bacteria. Bacteria are usually ignored despite its historical and current significance in dementia research.  A hundred years ago it was well known that syphilis—a bacterium—was the only known cause of dementia. The bacteria interferes with the nerves until it reaches the brain where it destroys the brain from the inside. In the end, the expression of long-term syphilis is dementia—Neurosyphilis. Alois Alzheimer wrote the textbook on neurosyphilis before his supervisor Emil Kraepelin propelled him into the history books by defining Alzheimer’s disease as a new disease in 1911. [1]

Neurosyphilis was very common in the 1900s. Between one in four to one in ten people in mental institutions were there because of neurosyphilis. Eventually syphilis kills its victims. Before the introduction of penicillin in 1943, syphilis was a common killer. In 1929, among men, the death rate from syphilis was 28.3 per 100,000 for Whites and 97.9 per 100,000 for Blacks [2]. The similarities between syphilis and dementia were addressed repeatedly in the early literature in Alzheimer’s disease [1]. Because syphilis can now be treated easily and cheaply, it has nearly been eradicated. But there is a new bacterium threat emerging—one that also causes dementia.

Today, the main bacterial threat to acquire dementia comes from Lyme disease—a bacterium borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. These ticks are themselves infected by feeding off diseased insects and birds, which bring the infection from across the globe. Worldwide there are 23 different species of these Lyme disease ticks.

Lyme disease is the most common disease transmitted by animals in the northern hemisphere and it is becoming an increasingly public health concern [3]. Not only because Lyme disease is a debilitating disease, but because eventually Lyme disease has been shown to cause dementia—Lyme dementia [4]. Science has not identified the mechanism for the development of Lyme dementia but more than 65 countries have the blacklegged ticks which transmit Lyme disease.

Ernie Murakami, a retired physician, has been monitoring the spread of Lyme disease in the north and south of the 49th parallel. The prevalence varies dramatically. Canada reporting the lowest cases in the world, with 1 case per million, while Slovenia reports 13 cases per 10,000. In the United Sates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 329,000 people are likely to be infected every year in the U.S. alone. Only one in ten cases are reported since clinicians are not looking for it. This estimated number of infections is higher than hepatitis C, HIV, colon cancer, and breast cancer. Lyme disease accounts for more than 90% of all reported cases of diseases transmitted by animals (vector-borne illness).

For more: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/iage/201705/the-coming-pandemic-lyme-dementia

Alec Baldwin latest celebrity to battle Lyme disease: What is it?

•May 24, 2017 • 2 Comments

Excerpted from USA Today :  (05/23/2017)

Alec Baldwin is the latest celebrity to open up about his battle with chronic Lyme disease. 

Baldwin said he has struggled with chronic Lyme disease for 17 years after he was bitten by a deer tick, treated, and then bitten again a few years later.

“The first time was the worst of all,” Baldwin said. “And I really thought this is it, I’m not going to live. I was alone, I wasn’t married at the time, I was divorced from my first wife. I was lying in bed saying, ‘I’m going to die of Lyme disease,’ in my bed and ‘I hope someone finds me and I’m not here for too long.’ ”

The bacterial infection is transmitted through a tick bite and can be treated successfully with antibiotics if caught early. If left untreated, it can cause heart and nervous system problems and have devastating long-term effects including memory loss, stiffness in joints and speech impairment.  While the Centers for Disease and Control estimates approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease each year, the number is likely much higher.

For more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/nation-now/2017/05/23/alec-baldwin-latest-celebrity-battle-lyme-disease-what-it/338592001/

Jimmy Walker reveals he’s battling Lyme Disease

•April 20, 2017 • 1 Comment

Excerpted from CBS Sports.com:  (04/19/2017)

Sometimes injuries are straightforward and easy to explain (like falling down the stairs at the Masters). Sometimes they are not, like on Tuesday when Jimmy Walker revealed that he has Lyme Disease.

Walker has been plagued for months by lethargy and a dampened enthusiasm, and his game has shown it. He just one top 10 on the 2016-17 PGA Tour season, and that was in the tiny field event at the Tournament of Champions to start the calendar year when he finished T9. On Wednesday at the Valero Texas Open, he opened up about his fight with a disease he did not see coming.

“I actually tested positive for Lyme Disease, found that out Wednesday of Augusta,” Walker said. “So we’ve been talking to a lot of doctors. I think that was more of what was going on as opposed to the mono, and a lot of doctors think that wasn’t really anything that was going on. Been very tired and fatigued and no strength and it comes and goes in waves and just hasn’t been real fun.

“So, dealing with that and I think I’ve had it for, you know, a little while now. I haven’t felt really good since Thanksgiving. I’m holding strong to that. How long I’ve had it, I don’t know. I know I haven’t felt great since about then. So, been talking to some doctors, trying to figure out the course of action to take and get on some meds to get it going in the right direction.”

Walker also noted that he probably needs rest but doesn’t want to take it.

“Anybody knows me, rest isn’t something I’m really good at doing,” Walker said. “Even when … we thought it was something else, it was still tough but I … kind of accepted that this is how I’ve been feeling and I’ve been feeling like this for awhile now and I keep plugging along, keep going.

“I didn’t know anything was wrong. I finally got to a point something is wrong, I don’t feel good and I need to get something figured out. Basically feels like you got the flu. No strength. Just got nothing. And it comes and goes in waves. You never know when it’s going to pop up.

“Augusta week I felt like I had a pretty good week. I felt nice and solid all week. Anti-inflammatories like Advil, kind of kick some of the symptoms a little bit. I had a really rough week at Honda. But it just comes and goes. I can’t figure any rhyme or reason out. I’m ready to get over it. I know that.”

Walker did say he’s not blaming his poor performance (relative to how he’s played in recent seasons) to the symptoms, but it’s hard to not draw the through line for him.

For more: http://www.cbssports.com/golf/news/jimmy-walker-reveals-hes-battling-lyme-disease/