A Brief Overview of Lyme

A Brief Overview of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection that is transmitted when the blacklegged tick (or “deer tick”) bites and feeds on the blood of a host. There are two types of hosts: the reservoir host and the incidental host.

In the case of Lyme disease, the white-footed mouse is currently recognized as the main reservoir host. This rodent lives in the tick’s habitat, and after it first becomes infected, will then spread the disease by infecting every other tick that bites it.

Humans and pets are incidental hosts (or “dead end hosts”), because they do not live in the tick’s natural habitat, but only come into contact with the bug by chance outdoors, and do not necessarily transmit Lyme disease to other ticks.

Because it can be transmitted so relatively easily, Lyme disease has become the fastest growing vector-borne disease in the United States – with CDC annual estimates of nationwide human cases increasing from 30,000 to more than 300,000 in 2013. So, by the CDC’s own admission, the actual number of infections is likely ten times greater than their previous annual estimate.

However, diagnosing the disease is difficult because of the faulty Western Blot and ELISA tests that the CDC requires to confirm a case of Lyme. These tests detect antibodies that the human immune system creates to combat a Lyme infection, instead of detecting the disease, itself.

And, because the immune system takes a while to recognize the infection and manufacture antibodies, by the time the current blood testing will be effective, the infection has already had weeks to take hold. And, even then, these tests are highly fallible.

Without accurate testing, the majority of Lyme sufferers must rely on a clinical diagnosis from a physician who recognizes the symptoms of an infection.

Such physicians are typically called “Lyme-literate doctors” (or LLMDs). However, at ILC, we prefer to call these practitioners “Lyme-experienced”, because confronting Lyme is about knowledge, not literacy. There are scores of physicians out there who have simply have not had access to the full breadth of research about Lyme disease or the clinical experience dealing with the illness to recognize the tell-tale signs of Lyme disease and its associated illnesses.

For more information on the Western Blot and ELISA tests and clinical diagnoses, visit our Diagnosis page.