33 percent of area ticks carry Lyme disease, finds Pitt-Johnstown study

•September 27, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Excerpted from the Tribune’Democrat :  (09/26/2016)

But the results of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown associate professor’s multi-year study shocked her anyway.

DNA testing of 500 deer ticks caught across the region showed that one in three carried the Lyme bacteria, Henning and a team of six Pitt-Johnstown students found.

“Typically when you think about Lyme disease issues, people think of it as an East Coast thing. But the results show just how much it’s spreading west across the state,” she said. “It really shows that we’re dealing with a problem that continues to grow.”

Henning researched ticks and Lyme disease as an undergraduate and studied infectious diseases as a grad student at The University of Pittsburgh.

It wasn’t long after she joined Pitt-Johnstown’s faculty in 2010 that she realized it made good sense to continue her research, she said.

“This is an active area. A lot of people are into hiking and biking and other outdoor activities … and there isn’t a lot of research regarding ticks and their association with Lyme disease in this part of Pennsylvania,” she said.

The research also allowed her to biology students to gain engaging experience both in the field and in a lab setting, Henning said.

The team focused its research on “questing” deer ticks – those hunting for a new host – in Bedford, Cambria, Indiana and Westmoreland counties.

They acquired a state Game Commission permit to collect the tiny arachnids inside game land property, areas that are typically havens for mammals like mice, rabbits and deer that ticks feed on throughout their lifespan, she said.

Students dragged a white sheet through six different forested areas like the Prince Gallitzin area and central Bedford County to pick up the ticks.

“I made them pull up their hair and wear white so that any ticks that jumped on to them were easy to spot,” Henning said. Any openings between clothing where skin might be accessible were fastened with duct tape, she said.

Once students were back on campus, they crushed the ticks’ bodies with tweezers, she said. Their remains were placed into containers for DNA testing.

Approximately 500 deer ticks were tested – a four-hour process each time, Pitt-Johnstown senior Corey Coleman, 21, said.

The results stunned him, too.

“When you think of Lyme disease, you think it’s some kind of rare occurrence. But this shows that if you get bit by a tick, the odds aren’t rare that you can get it,” said Coleman. of Central City.

For more: http://http://www.tribdem.com/news/percent-of-area-ticks-carry-lyme-disease-finds-pitt-johnstown/article_5b814186-839f-11e6-bf90-073e988428e6.html

CDC Says Fewer Suffer After Lyme Disease. Doesn’t Say, If Treated Early.

•September 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from the Huffington Post :  (09/08/2016)

For at least five years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially stated that 10 to 20 percent of patients treated for Lyme disease — some 30,000 to 60,000 of 300,000 infected yearly — “will have lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches,” even after supposedly curative antibiotic treatment.

But quietly, without peer review or formal announcement, the agency has decided that the actual percentage is much smaller — half or a quarter as much. The decision was made, officials told me, based on a study that showed less than 5 percent of Lyme patients exhibit ongoing symptoms after treatment.

Consequently, the CDC’s web site now states that “a small percentage”
of patients will have lingering symptoms of what is called Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome or PTLDS. Other studies have found higher shares of patients suffering after treatment, particularly when diagnosis is delayed. The study cited by the CDC was of patients treated early and who exhibited symptoms on average 15 years later.

The agency’s pronouncement involves the most contentious issue in the debate over Lyme disease: why — and how many — people have problems involving pain, mobility, and mental and physical functioning even after taking single-course antibiotics recommended by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, or IDSA.

For more: http://http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-beth-pfeiffer/cdc-citing-one-study-of-e_b_11877020.html

Mystery Solved: How Lyme Disease Bacteria Spread Around the Body

•August 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from Live Science :  (08/25/2016)

Drugs that target BBK32 might help to prevent the spread of B. burgdorferi to joints, the heart and the nervous system, although future research is needed to test this, the researchers said. In addition, because B. burgdorferi’s method of movement resembles that of leukocytes, existing drugs could be repurposed for Lyme disease, the researchers said. Those drugs treat certain autoimmune disorders by targeting leukocyte-blood vessel interactions.

When you’re bitten by a tick carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the microbes travel through your bloodstream and can eventually spread to the heart, joints and nervous system. But exactly how these bacteria move inside human blood vessels to spread throughout the body has remained largely a mystery, until now.

A new study sheds light on the way these bacteria latch onto the inside of blood vessel walls and move inside the vessels while fighting the forces of flowing blood.

For more: http://www.livescience.com/55895-lyme-disease-bacteria-spread.html

“It’s A Scandal” -Daryl Hall on Doctors Denying Chronic Lyme

•July 23, 2016 • 1 Comment

Excerpted from the Huffington Post :  (07/22/2016)

Growing up a musically-obsessed child in the 80’s, Daryl Hall was one of my biggest inspirations. A masterful, inventive songwriter with an ocean of soul, he set me on the path to being an artist, to never waste a word, and to sing because I mean it.

With six number ones and five additional top ten hits throughout the 70’s and 80’s Daryl Hall and John Oates are the number one duo in music history. Still at the top of his game at 69 years old, Daryl has won legions of new fans with his hit MTV Live show Live From Daryl’s House.

In February of 2015, at my very sickest from chronic Lyme and Bartonella, after it was missed by eleven NYC doctors, I was homebound and in heart failure. On one of those terrifying, bleary days I caught the last half of a Dan Rather interview with Daryl.

Near the end, Rather asked, “What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?”

Daryl exhaled, “Getting Lyme Disease is no fun, I’ll tell you that right now.”

“I have to speak with him,” I thought. “He looks so good! I need to know how he got better.”

So, here is my conversation with Daryl and with Dr. Richard Horowitz, Daryl’s esteemed Lyme specialist, Board Certified Internist and Director of the Hudson Valley Healing Arts Center, in Hyde Park, New York, and New York Times best-selling author of Why Can’t I Get Better. His forthcoming book, How Can I Get Better, will be out later this year.

Daryl, thank you for going on the record; many celebrities don’t want to talk about this and I don’t know why.
I don’t either. I don’t know why anybody would want to hide this, there’s no stigma against it. It’s something that’s happening to everybody.

How and when did this all start for you?

About ten years ago, I started getting tremors, especially in my left hand and arm, with twitching, and I didn’t know what that was. I’ve always had food allergies and spring allergies but then I got this very serious celery allergy. And that came out of the blue. And then finally I came down with this raging fever and really stiff neck and body.

What was the timeframe for all of the symptoms to surface?

This took place over the course of about a year.

I assume you were seeing doctors- what were they saying?

They told me it was the summer flu and all this nonsense. So I started talking to my family about it and my ex-wife, who has Lyme, said it sounded to her like Lyme. So I went to another doctor who finally did test me, and found I also had ehrlichia. He gave me two weeks of Doxycycline only, and of course, old story, nothing happened. Except that the bull’s-eye suddenly appeared. But I was not getting any better.

And then my sister found Dr. Joseph Burrascano for me, who was one of the few Lyme doctors practicing, and he was out in the Hamptons. He was the first Lyme-literate doctor that I went to and he gave me my diagnosis and started proper treatment. That went on for about a year.

What was the treatment?
I was pulsing oral antibiotics. I did not do an IV. I cycled through many different antibiotics, and slowly I started feeling better. Dr. Burrascano actually assessed me for Parkinson’s because of my tremors, but thank God, I did not have it. It was Lyme.

Dr. Horowitz, is there a way to distinguish between Parkinson’s and Parkinsonism? How common are tremors with Lyme and other tick-borne disease, and which infection seems to cause it?

Dr. Horowitz: Parkinson’s disease is a clinical diagnosis, and the one common denominator underlying most chronic illness, especially neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, is inflammation. We now know that different neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease are all influenced by inflammation, which can have multifactorial etiologies.

For example, inflammation could be due to different infections (like Lyme and Bartonella), autoimmune processes, environmental toxins, unhealthy bacteria in our colons (dysbiosis), an improper diet and/or nutritional deficiencies, as well as a lack of sleep.

I call these multiple overlapping medical problems keeping Lyme patients sick, MSIDS. It stands for Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome and it is a comprehensive map to identifying the factors that keep people sick so that they can achieve wellness. Infections and toxins on the MSIDS map drive inflammation, and in the case of tremors, Lyme combined with mercury toxicity and pesticide exposure, can all increase inflammation in the central nervous system, leading to amyloid production, which damages our nerve cells. This causes memory problems and tremors. If we want to control the symptoms of Lyme disease and decrease these neurological manifestations, we have to address all of the above overlapping causes of inflammation.

Daryl, did you continue on treatment after the first year?
Yes, Joe moved into research and I began treatment with Dr. Richard Horowitz, and I have been with him ever since. He is an extraordinary doctor, incredible.For

For more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scientists-discover-new-bacteria-responsible-for-lyme-disease_us_56ba2000e4b08ffac122b719

Visiting physician sheds new light on Lyme disease

•July 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from MV Times Times :  (07/13/2016)

She also said the two-day course of doxycycline, often prescribed for people who find a tick embedded on their body, has little or no prophylactic value. “It should be 100 to 200 milligrams of doxycycline twice a day for 20 days, regardless of the time of engorgement,” she said. “It is not a two-day thing.”

This past Friday, Dr. Nevena Zubcevik, attending physician at Harvard Medical School and co-director of Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown (SRH) traveled to one of the nation’s front lines in the public health battle against Lyme disease to speak to a group of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital physicians. “I wanted to do this presentation by Skype because of all the ticks you have here,” she joked.

Dr. Zubcevik was at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH) to speak at grand rounds, a weekly meeting of clinicians, which on this day was open to the public, resulting in an overflow crowd at the Community Room just off the hospital lobby.

Over the course of the hour, she shared the most recent findings that she and her colleagues have made on the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, in particular on the 10 to 15 percent of patients who suffer long-term symptoms, defined by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). She discussed the protean nature of tick-borne diseases, the importance of public awareness, and the urgent need for the medical community to step up its game.

“Graduating medical students and doctors really aren’t educated about the gravity of this epidemic,” she said. “There’s a gap there that needs to be filled. We’re all responsible to educate our young doctors about what this entails.”

Dr. Zubcevic said the recent revelation that actor, singer, and songwriter Kris Kristofferson was cured of dementia once he was properly diagnosed with Lyme disease should be a lesson for medical professionals on how pervasive the disease is, and how often it is overlooked.

“Sudden-onset dementia should really be a red flag for Lyme [disease], especially in people with compromised immune systems,” she said.

“Everyone over 50 has a compromised immune system.”

Dr. Zubcevik said that doctors and parents should know that Lyme presents differently in children than it does in adults. “71 percent of the time, headache is the most common symptom in children,” she said. “Mood disturbance, fatigue, and irritability are also frequent symptoms in children. If they are acting out in school all of a sudden, get them tested.”

Dr. Zubcevik cited a particularly compelling example of undiagnosed Lyme disease where a 29-year-old male had been institutionalized four times for schizophrenia. After a series of tests, and in concert with a psychiatrist, Dr. Zubcevik began a course of daily antibiotics on him. “The first month he could remember what he had for breakfast,” she said. “The second month he could read a chapter of a book, and after six months he was back to normal. He could tolerate light and sound again, which he couldn’t before.”

For more:http://www.mvtimes.com/2016/07/13/visiting-physician-sheds-new-light-lyme-disease/

Kris Kristofferson Has Lyme Disease, Not Alzheimer’s

•June 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from The Newsmax Health Times :  (06/09/2016)

Country music legend Kris Kristofferson, who has battled memory problems for years, is apparently among many Americans who have been misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, only to learn later that they actually have a treatable illness – in this case, Lyme disease, a top expert says.

“I think that it’s possible for Lyme disease to be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s and Kris Kristofferson’s story speaks to the importance of an accurate diagnosis,” Dr. Gary Small, director of the University of California-Los Angeles Longevity Center, tells Newsmax Health.

Kristofferson, 79, was under the belief that his longstanding memory problems stemmed from Alzheimer’s, but now his wife says that the iconic singer, songwriter, and award-wining actor actually had untreated Lyme disease. After just a few weeks of treatment, he turned around, she says.

“All of a sudden he was back,” Lisa Kristofferson tells Rolling Stone. “There are still bad days. [But] some days he’s perfectly normal and it’s easy to forget that he is even battling anything.”

For years, doctors had been telling Kristofferson that his increasingly debilitating memory loss was due to either Alzheimer’s or to dementia brought on by blows to the head from boxing, football, and rugby he played in his teens and early 20s. Some days, Kristofferson couldn’t even remember what he was doing from one moment to the next, the article says.

But, earlier this year, a doctor decided to test Kristofferson for Lyme disease, and the test came back positive. After three weeks of treatment for the ailment – along with getting off the drugs for Alzheimer’s and depression that he was taking – the singer’s memory problems have largely disappeared, the article indicates.

According to Small, while Alzheimer’s disease is often under diagnosed,  it can also be misdiagnosed.


Fighting Lyme Disease in the Genes of Nantucket’s Mice

•June 9, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Excerpted from The New York Times :  (06/07/2016)

Can genetically engineered mice save Nantucket from the scourge of Lyme disease?

If the 10,000 residents of the Massachusetts island did not have such a soft spot for deer, they might not be entertaining the prospect, which could provide the groundwork for an even more exotic approach to controlling tick-borne diseases on the mainland.

But popular opinion has long opposed public health officials’ recommendation of radically reducing the population of deer that serve as a food source for ticks carrying the Lyme pathogen and a convenient place for adult females to lay their eggs.

“The people who get sick yell and scream at me for not doing anything about it,’’ said Malcolm MacNab, the chairman of the Nantucket Board of Health, “and the others yell and scream at me because I want to kill the deer.” Dr. MacNab said nearly 40 percent of Nantucket residents had had Lyme disease.

So when he heard that Kevin Esvelt, an evolutionary biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wanted to gauge the island’s interest in a new approach, he invited the scientist to present it at a public meeting on Monday.

Although deer help spread ticks that carry Lyme, Dr. Esvelt explained to about two dozen residents at the meeting, the disease can also be controlled earlier in the tick’s food chain. Ticks typically contract the pathogen from white-footed mice, which they often feed on while still larvae, passing it on to humans and other mice when they bite again.

Using new genome-engineering tools, he proposes to create mice that are immune to the Lyme-causing pathogen, or to a protein in the tick’s saliva, or both, to break the cycle of transmission.

If that worked — and there is reason to think it would — he would then apply for permission to release thousands of the mice on a smaller, uninhabited island. If the number of infected ticks proved to be sufficiently reduced after two years, Nantucket could be next. The release of a few hundred thousand engineered mice over the course of about a year, Dr. Esvelt said, would ensure a stable population of resistant mice.

There is no company behind the project, which Dr. Esvelt estimated could take as long as a decade to complete. But he said he thought he could get government and philanthropic funding because it would provide evidence that might justify the use of another technology he has helped to pioneer, called “gene drive,” to attack Lyme disease elsewhere.

In the Northeast and Upper Midwest, the areas of the United States where Lyme is most prevalent, it would not be feasible to release enough engineered mice to spread the genes for Lyme immunity through the native mouse population.

An effort on that scale would require the addition of a gene drive, which ensures that a given gene is passed to all of an organism’s offspring rather than the usual half.

Gene drive technology is complicated because it has the capacity to alter an entire population of a given species, without any sure means of being canceled out if it has unforeseen consequences. It has been used only in laboratory experiments.

For more:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/08/science/ticks-lyme-disease-mice-nantucket.html?_r=0