Hidden in Plain Sight
Not every tick carries the Lyme causing bacteria ‘borrelia’ & if they do then not everyone succumbs to the disease. A person can be an asymptomatic carrier whether acquired from a tick bite or passed along by the mother. However some people can be unwitting sufferers of Lyme disease & not realise due to the overlapping symptoms with other illnesses, such as MS, ME, Parkinsons, ALS & even conditions affecting the skin & eyes & multiple organs.
Transmission times may differ depending on strain & sometimes you see 36-48 hours mentioned before Lyme can be transmitted from a feeding tick. This may lead to people dangerously thinking they are safe even when the tick had been feeding for a while. This website shows a collection of articles related to shorter transmission times..
So it seems that Lyme may not always be hard to catch, but what about a cure? Let’s take a closer look at the cause of Lyme disease ..
Some Interesting facts about borrelia…
Did you know that the spirochete can move faster than any human cell in the body?
The fastest speed recorded for a spirochete is upward of two orders of magnitude above the speed of a human neutrophil, the fastest cell in the body. This alacrity and its interpretation, in an organism with bidirectional motor capacity, may well contribute to difficulties in spirochete clearance by the host.
Did you know that borrelia doesn’t need iron to survive?
“Current dogma states that to be successful in humans, bacteria must overcome strict iron limitations that the human body imparts on them…To our surprise, we found that B. burgdorferi doesn’t even require iron. In fact, iron is extremely toxic to it.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000602073005.htm
Wow, borrelia has 3 times more plasmids than any other bacteria & is more complex than syphilis!
Borrelia has over 1500 gene sequences so this is a very, very complex bacteria. There are at least 132 functioning genes in Borrelia and this is in contrast to Treponema pallidum which is the spirochaete that causes Syphilis. This bacteria has only 22 functioning genes so Borrelia is a much more complex organism from a genetic point of view compared to the organism that causes Syphilis.
About the spirochete:
The spirochete is as long, as a fine human hair is thick. Borrelia burgdorferi is a highly mobile bacteria, it can swim extremely efficiently through both blood and tissue because of internal propulsion. It is propelled by an internal arrangement of flagella, bundled together, that runs the length of the bacteria from tip to tip.
Granules or blebs:
Lyme spirochetes have also been seen shuddering violently or breaking into pieces, producing small particles called granules or blebs. Radolf and Bourell (1994) believe that the granules are “pinched-off” bits of cell wall which have been shown to contain DNA material (Brorson and Brorson 1997). ..Others have observed the formation of blebs in response to the presence of a strong immune response or powerful antibiotics, suggesting that granule formation is another way that Bb survives the action of bactericidal agents (Sadziene and others 1994, Dever and others 1993).
When a bacteria like a spirochete loses its cell wall, it becomes incapable of holding its spiral shape. It becomes a sphere surrounded by a thin semi-permeable membrane. This round sphere is like the evil counter pare to the classical spiral form. Why evil? Well, when the bacterium sheds its cell wall, it also sheds several proteins that are markers to the human immune system. In other words, the immune system has trouble finding and recognizing this new form of the bacteria. It’s almost like a criminal using disguises to change identities after each crime. Only this disguise is also bullet proof because, without a cell wall, antibiotics like Rocephin are useless.
The cyst form of B. burgdorferi develops when a single Lyme spirochete curls into a ball and forms a cocoon around itself, which is impermeable to most antibiotics.
Cyst formation in Bb occurs in response to common antibiotics such as ceftriaxone and penicillin (Murgia and others 2002, Kersten and others 1995). Researchers have also induced cyst formation by exposing the Lyme disease spirochete to other stressors, such as nutrient deprivation (Brorson and Brorson 1998b; Brorson and Brorson 1997) or high temperature, extreme pH variations, and the presence of hydrogen peroxide (Murgia and Cinco 2004). Gruntar and others (2002) found that B. garinii cysts proved infective when introduced into mice and could even survive freeze-thawing. https://www.natcaplyme.org/lyme-topics/the-borrelia-genus/2.html
Emerging research indicates that biofilm may be a significant factor in Lyme disease and subsequently will impact requirements for treatment. Biofilm is a polysaccharide matrix that traps the bacteria making it harder for antibiotics to reach and destroy them.
Biofilm protocols have five main goals:
1. Eat through the goo-like matrix using enzymes and thinning agents
2. Break the bonds between the goo using Ca-EDTA
3. Kill the now-exposed bugs using antimicrobials
4. Sweep the whole mess out using fibers and binders
5. Rebuild the gut lining with happy, healthy critters
http://www.lymebook.com/biofilm – an interesting book about the role of biofilm and source of biofilm protocols.
Borrelia moves faster than any other living cell in the body
It does not require iron to survive
It is pleomorphic meaning it can change form at any given moment, evading antibiotics & the immune system & can reconvert back to active form when the coast is clear.
Different forms may include motile (spirochete), cell wall deficient (L-form/cyst/round bodies), fragments, granules & blebs & biofilm (a slime layer protecting all forms from drugs & the immune system).
Click here for a must see video showing cysts, spirochetes & granular forms in one massive bio-film mass! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4uNDWdChM8&feature=related
For a fascinating look at borrelia or ticks under the microscope check out our web page at: https://ticktalkireland.wordpress.com/lyme-links/under-microscope/
Testing is a huge issue & one I feel sad about. Why sad? Because it’s long be known that testing needs to be improved & yet things are still far from perfect. To be fair, advances have been made – C6 testing is now utilised, however this is not necessarily useful in all patients – different strains can produce different bands in testing & yet instead of looking to see if a band is specific to lyme they instead require an X number of bands to be positive, thereby ruling out someone who has poor immune response or may be too early in the illness to start producing enough antibodies.
Also early antibiotics are known to abrogate immune response but if the early treatment is inadequate the patient can still go on to develop disseminated lyme disease & yet test falsely negative.
I have known patients to exhibit completely negative C6 tests which was then used to rule out Lyme disease who then went on to test positive in a Western Blot. Is the patient then told their C6 was false negative or the WB was false positive? Either way some of the testing was faulty.
I have known patients with a positive PCR of spinal fluid being told it was a false positive (presumably because their antibody blood tests were negative) & therefore denied IV treatment. I have known some people being refused testing altogether.
What about those patients who were borderline positive? Was the cutoff too low? Was the mild response to the testing showing some infection? Is the infection gone or still active??
A patient who had the foresight to look at other patients blood (most with a previous diagnosis of ME) under the microscope has some amazing high quality pictures & video footage. You will be shocked by what he found, especially as most of these patients were negative by NHS testing (although positive by private tests such as Igenex & LTT). Why not take a look at:
Some patients choose to move away from antibody testing & find antigen testing looking at T cells using private funds. Doctors however are wary of these tests & often refuse to accept the results. Some T cell tests though can be useful according to these studies.
LTT/Elispot – Lymphocyte Transformation Test (B or T Cell) Studies
The sensitivity of LTT was superior to serological investigation of antibodies in the ELISA or immunoblot tests and correlated well with clinical symptoms. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3751012/
The ELISPOT technology has proven to be extremely sensitive in detecting even low frequencies of antigen reactive T cells and has been approved by the FDA for use in the diagnosis of tuberculosis http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3972671
The Lymphocyte Transformation Test for Borrelia Detects Active Lyme Borreliosis and Verifies Effective Antibiotic Treatment http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3474945/
The level of detection by ELISPOT was 10 to 200 times more sensitive than ELISA performed on culture supernatants. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7999925
After therapy, most patients (90.7%) showed negative or markedly reduced lymphocyte reactivity correlating with clinical improvement. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16876371
Use of a cocktail of recombinant, in vivo-expressed B. burgdorferi-antigens revealed the robust induction of borrelia-specific antibody-secreting cells by ELISPOT. http://m.medicalxpress.com/news/2011-06-lyme-disease-bacteria-lymph-nodes_1.html
So as it’s known that testing needs improving, can we at least agree that until such time that they are improved, that alternatives such as LTT be considered as viable tests?
I conclude you have Lyme disease but what to do with you?!
Looking at treatment we can see from the morphology listed above that it could be tricky
to treat so what options are there? Eva Sapi found in test tube studies that doxycycline doesn’t perform as well as hoped. Although it’s effective against spiros it encourages formation of round bodies (effectively hiding themselves away from treatment). It has long been known the metronidazole (flagyl) is effective against cell wall deficient drugs but the surprising find was that it’s also effective against other forms too. Combination therapy is probably key & the use of biofilm busters such as protelytic enzymes may help.
A recent study on persisters listed FDA approved drugs & their ability to clear persistent bacteria & again doxy didn’t do so well. If we can respect the bacteria for what it is (NOT hard to catch & easy to cure) then we can really look at how to get patients well & how to test for bacteria more effectively. If someone is chronically ill after treatment it should not be assumed that A. they didn’t have Lyme in the first place or B. that they ‘must be’ cured by short treatment therefore anything else thereafter must be ‘aches & pains of normal living’ or post lyme syndrome.
Many patients will tell you that the flares before treatment can be just as devastating as after treatment suggesting an active ongoing infection. Relapses can be common too as the bugs may lie low (in a spheroplast/cystic form /round bodies) evading treatment, once withdrawn they can convert back into motile form causing more havoc to the patient.
In this study (PDF) on round bodies the author stated that round bodies were able to revert and become active spirochetes from day 5 & in this study the author found motile spiros developed from cyst forms even after freeze/thawing conditions.
We need to understand more the immune system’s response to Lyme & the effective ways to tackle it. We need a much shorter treatment time by using more effective drugs & thereby lessening the recovery time. We need to improve testing AND THEN ACCEPT THOSE IMPROVED TESTS instead of insisting that the 2 tier test is the only one that should be used.
Just like with TB we need to move away from antibody testing & embrace T cell tests as standard. Similar to the patient who looked at the bloods of ME patients we need to be prepared to look more closely at blood & tissue of Lyme patients – is there live bacteria despite negative testing, have spiros persisted despite treatment, were patients wrongly diagnosed with ME/CFS in the first place?
Let’s keep asking those questions & pushing for changes.. sadly patients are often the ones pushing for this, shouldn’t the doctors be concerned also?
Patient Power –
Tick Talk Ireland is solely run by volunteers who have suffered & are ‘still’ suffering from the effects of Lyme disease (or close family members of a Lyme disease patient). We do what we do to help prevent others from going through the same ordeal – we rely solely on our volunteers to help us spread the word.
Here’s some ways we have made a difference…
Articles, TV, Newspaper & Radio Interviews, Tick Sweeps, Contacts with TDs & MEPs, Leaflets, Handouts, Surveys, *Staff Awareness Packs, Talks, Awareness Tables, Lyme Conference, Under Our Skin showings, Children’s Book & Poster, Meeting with HPSC, Letter of Concern to Health Minister Ireland & British PM, Letter to the IDSI & HPSC, Letter to Medical Card Team, Newcomers Guide & FAQ, Petitions, Websites, Blog Site, Facebook Pages, Email Support & Twitter Feed, Collation of Research for Lyme Research UK & Ireland, attended the Public Health England Meeting in London & also Supported the Worldwide Rally.
*Staff Awareness Packs are available by contacting our information officer mary (at) ticktalkireland.org. We also have a limited supply of leaflets, if you are able to help with distribution feel free to contact us at info (at) ticktalkireland.org (replace at with @ before sending!)
Patients have also helped with talks in their local areas, leaflet distribution, Under our skin showings, radio & news interviews, annual meet-ups, contacts with TDs & MEPs, helped get a warning sign at Killarney National Park Play Area, volunteered at awareness events, manning tables & doing talks plus helping at our very first Lyme conference, also presentation of concerns to the Government Health Committee in Dublin (which included inputs from lab specialists, a tick specialist & head of veterinary labs, Oct 2013)
NB: We at Tick Talk Ireland support ILADS & endorse their New Guidelines issued in 2014 as the best source of information regarding the treatment of Lyme disease.. We also support Burrascanos Treatment Guide & The German Borreliosis Society Guide for supportive information.