*Upated 8th Mar 2013*
An ice man was found in the Austrian/Italian Alps. Tests on 5,000 year old skeleton showed traces of borrelia. Even more interesting was that marks were found that indicated a form of treatment possibly to help with joint pain!
Quote: ‘The DNA analysis also revealed several genetic variants that placed the Iceman at high risk for hardening of the arteries. (“If he hadn’t been shot,” Zink remarked, “he probably would have died of a heart attack or stroke in ten years.”) Perhaps most surprising, researchers found the genetic footprint of bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi in his DNA—making the Iceman the earliest known human infected by the bug that causes Lyme disease.’
From Wiki: ‘Ötzi had several carbon tattoos including groups of short, parallel, vertical lines to both sides of the lumbar spine, a cruciform mark behind the right knee, and various marks around both ankles. Radiological examination of his bones showed “age-conditioned or strain-induced degeneration” in these areas, including osteochondrosis and slight spondylosis in the lumbar spine and wear-and-tear degeneration in the knee and especially the ankle joints. It has been speculated that these tattoos may have been related to pain relief treatments similar to acupressure or acupuncture. If so, this is at least 2000 years before their previously known earliest use in China (c. 1000 BC)’
*Upated 5th Jul 2012*
A fascinating history on Lyme:
12th International Conference on Lyme Disease and Other Spirochetal and Tick-Borne Disorders
Day 1 – April 9, 1999
Keynote Address – The Complexity of Vector-borne Spirochetes (Borrelia spp) by Speaker Willy Burgdorfer (discoverer of the lyme spirochete, borrelia burgdorferi)
http://www.lymenet.de/literatur/12tbdconference/day1/day1.htm#The Complexity of Vector-borne Spirochetes
History of Lyme from Wikipedia
The evolutionary history of Borrelia burgdorferi genetics has been the subject of recent studies. One study has found that prior to the reforestation that accompanied post colonial farm abandonment in New England and the wholesale migration into the mid-west that occurred during the early 1800s, Lyme disease was present for thousands of years in America and had spread along with its tick hosts from the Northeast to the Midwest. This is confirmed by the writings of Peter Kalm, a Swedish botanist who was sent to America by Linnaeus, and who found the forests of New York “abound” with ticks when he visited in 1749. When Kalm’s journey was retraced 100 years later the forests were gone and the Lyme bacterium had probably become isolated to a few pockets along the northeast coast, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Perhaps the first detailed description of what we now know of as Lyme disease appeared in the writings of Reverend Dr John Walker after a visit to the Island of Jura (Deer Island) off the west coast of Scotland in 1764. He gives a good description both of the symptoms of Lyme disease (with “exquisite pain (in) the interior parts of the limbs”) and of the tick vector itself which he describes as a “worm” with a body which is “of a reddish colour and of a compressed shape with a row of feet on each side” that “penetrates the skin”. Many people from this area of Great Britain emigrated to North America between 1717 and the end of the eighteenth century. The examination of preserved museum specimens has found Borrelia DNA in an infected Ixodes ricinus tick from Germany that dates back to 1884 and from an infected mouse from Cape Cod that died in 1894.
The early European studies of what is now known as Lyme disease described its skin manifestations. The first study dates to 1883 in Wrocław, Poland (then known as Breslau, Free State of Prussia) where physician Alfred Buchwald described a man who had suffered for 16 years with a degenerative skin disorder now known as acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans. At a 1909 research conference, Swedish dermatologist Arvid Afzelius presented a study about an expanding, ring-like lesion he had observed in an older woman following the bite of a sheep tick. He named the lesion erythema migrans. The skin condition now known as borrelial lymphocytoma was first described in 1911.
Neurological problems following tick bites were recognized starting in the 1920s. French physicians Garin and Bujadoux described a farmer with a painful sensory radiculitis accompanied by mild meningitis following a tick bite. A large ring-shaped rash was also noted, although the doctors did not relate it to the meningoradiculitis. In 1930, the Swedish dermatologist Sven Hellerström was the first to propose that EM and neurological symptoms following a tick bite were related. In the 1940s, German neurologist Alfred Bannwarth described several cases of chronic lymphocytic meningitis and polyradiculoneuritis, some of which were accompanied by erythematous skin lesions.
Carl Lennhoff, who worked at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, believed that many skin conditions were caused by spirochetes. In 1948, he used a special stain to microscopically observe what he believed were spirochetes in various types of skin lesions, including EM. Although his conclusions were later shown to be erroneous, interest in the study of spirochetes was sparked. In 1949, Nils Thyresson, who also worked at the Karolinska Institute, was the first to treat ACA with penicillin. In the 1950s, the relationship among tick bite, lymphocytoma, EM and Bannwarth’s syndrome was recognized throughout Europe leading to the widespread use of penicillin for treatment in Europe.
In 1970 a dermatologist in Wisconsin named Rudolph Scrimenti recognized an EM lesion in a patient after recalling a paper by Hellerström that had been reprinted in an American science journal in 1950. This was the first documented case of EM in the United States. Based on the European literature, he treated the patient with penicillin.
The full syndrome now known as Lyme disease was not recognized until a cluster of cases originally thought to be juvenile rheumatoid arthritis was identified in three towns in southeastern Connecticut in 1975, including the towns Lyme and Old Lyme, which gave the disease its popular name. This was investigated by physicians David Snydman and Allen Steere of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, and by others from Yale University. The recognition that the patients in the United States had EM led to the recognition that “Lyme arthritis” was one manifestation of the same tick-borne condition known in Europe.
Before 1976, elements of B. burgdorferi sensu lato infection were called or known as tick-borne meningopolyneuritis, Garin-Bujadoux syndrome, Bannwarth syndrome, Afzelius syndrome, Montauk Knee or sheep tick fever. Since 1976 the disease is most often referred to as Lyme disease, Lyme borreliosis or simply borreliosis.
In 1980 Steere, et al., began to test antibiotic regimens in adult patients with Lyme disease. In the same year, New York State Health Dept. epidemiologist Jorge Benach provided Willy Burgdorfer, a researcher at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, with collections of I. dammini [scapularis] from Shelter Island, NY, a known Lyme-endemic area as part of an ongoing investigation of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In examining the ticks for rickettsiae, Burgdorfer noticed “poorly stained, rather long, irregularly coiled spirochetes.” Further examination revealed spirochetes in 60% of the ticks. Burgdorfer credited his familiarity with the European literature for his realization that the spirochetes might be the “long-sought cause of ECM and Lyme disease.” Benach supplied him with more ticks from Shelter Island and sera from patients diagnosed with Lyme disease. University of Texas Health Science Center researcher Alan Barbour “offered his expertise to culture and immunochemically characterize the organism.” Burgdorfer subsequently confirmed his discovery by isolating from patients with Lyme disease spirochetes identical to those found in ticks. In June 1982 he published his findings in Science, and the spirochete was named Borrelia burgdorferi in his honor.
After identification B. burgdorferi as the causative agent of Lyme disease, antibiotics were selected for testing, guided by in vitro antibiotic sensitivities, including tetracycline antibiotics, amoxicillin, cefuroxime axetil, intravenous and intramuscular penicillin and intravenous ceftriaxone. The mechanism of tick transmission was also the subject of much discussion. B. burgdorferi spirochetes were identified in tick saliva in 1987, confirming the hypothesis that transmission occurred via tick salivary glands.
Lyme Disease Bacterium Came From Europe Before Ice Age
ScienceDaily (June 30, 2008) — Researchers at the University of Bath have discovered that a bacterium that causes Lyme disease originated in Europe, rather than in North America as previously thought.
The bacterium responsible for Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, originated in America, or so researchers thought. Now, however, a team from the University of Bath has shown that this bug in fact came from Europe, originating from before the Ice Age.
By understanding the origins of the bacterium and how it has evolved so far researchers hope to be able to predict how it will continue to develop, and so find ways to prevent its spread.
In the study, researchers from the University of Bath and colleagues from the UK and USA studied the evolutionary history of the bacteria by looking at the sequences of eight so-called ‘housekeeping genes’, which evolve very slowly. They analysed 64 different samples taken from infected humans and ticks in Europe and America.
In all, 33 different combinations of the housekeeping genes were found. The study’s findings appear to show that Borrelia burgdorferi originated in Europe but that the species has been present in North America for a long time. The researchers suggest its re-emergence there in the 1970s occurred after the geographic territory of the tick that carries the bacteria expanded, for example through the restoration of woodland.
Lyme disease is a growing problem in Europe, Asia and – in particular – North America, where it is now the most common vector-borne disease. The disease was named after Old Lyme, Connecticut, the site of a number of cases in the 1970s. There is no vaccine for the infection, which can cause arthritis and problems with the nervous system and heart if left untreated.
Margos G et al. MLST of housekeeping genes captures geographic population structure and suggests a European origin of Borrelia burgdorferi. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2008;105(25):8730-8735
The pre-Lyme history of Lyme borreliosis in Europe: by Marie Kroun MD
Interesting timeline from 1883 onwards
History Of Lyme Disease
By frankybme on August 19, 2009
The first recorded case related to Lyme disease dates back to 1883. In Breslau, Germany, a physician named Alfred Buchwald discovered a condition known today as the acrodermatitis chronic atrophicans (ACA), which is described as the discoloration or degeneration on the skin commonly occurring on the hands and feet.
In the 1909 meeting of the Swedish Society of Dermatology, Arvid Afzelius presented his research on a phenomena described as the expanding ring-like skin lesions or rash pattern that he had observed for years. 12 years later, he published the manuscript of his work, speculating that the condition came from the bite of an Ixodes tick.
During the early part of the 20th century, more associations have been made on the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease. The medical cases that were used in the inquiry included the link between erythema migrans (EM) rash and neurologic problems in 1922, the occurrence of psychiatric symptoms in patients with EM rash in 1930, the occurrence of EM and ACA on patients with benign nodule or rumor (lymphocytomas) in 1934 and the involvement of heart conditions on patients with EM rash and arthritic symptoms.
In the middle portion of the 20th century, physicians continue to experiment on some possibly effective antibiotic treatments. In 1970, with the case of Rudolph Scrimeti, an American who was reported to be bitten by a tick while hunting in Wisconsin was the very first reported incidence of EM rash known with certainty as the Lyme disease. By 1976, clustering of the disease was observed and reported at the Naval Submarine Medical in Southwestern Connecticut. By 1977, a doctor named Allen Steere and his team managed to describe and provide explanation for the phenomena, which was initially misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis. Hence, they named the condition as the ‘Lyme arthritis‘.
In 1980s, an entomologist named Willy Burgdorfer, MD, Ph.D. of the United States Rocky Mountain Laboratories of the National Institutes of Health investigated the outbreak of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Research Scientists Edward Bosler, Ph.D. and Jorge Benach collaborated with the dangerous work of gathering and testing tick samples in hope of finding the source of the disease-causing pathogens. In the fall of 1981, the team had finally put focus on the black-legged ticks, which yielded new findings. Discovering an embryonic form of parasite in the body fluid of the ticks, Burgdorfer further examined the finding, which led to the discovery of the causative agent of Lyme disease. The infectious bacteria were later on named Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb).
NB – link now broken but kept as a reference for information..