Home Facts Can Lyme Disease Be Sexually Transmitted

Can Lyme Disease Be Sexually Transmitted


Is Lyme Disease An Std

Is Lyme Disease Contagious?

A recent study suggests that Lyme disease might be sexually transmitted. Just how seriously should you take the findings?

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If last months abstract claiming Lyme disease could be sexually transmitted has you panickingor feeling vindicateddont. Though theres plenty of controversy around the disease and its treatment, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the possibility of sexual transmission and of this abstract in particular.

Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted Study Suggests

From study author Marianne Middelveen: Motile spirochetes identified as Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto were cultured from vaginal and seminal secretions and that supports other evidence that there could be sexual transmission. We are at the early stages of investigation and there is a lot more that we have to learn. We are doing a larger study that will be written up for publication.

What Percent Of Cases Of Reasonably Proven Lyme Disease Present Without Erythema Migrans

According to the Centers for Disease Control , erythema migrans occurs in 60-80% of Confirmed cases. Under careful monitoring of patients who develop new onset symptoms, about 20% have systemic symptoms without a rash or other objective sign of Lyme disease .

To be considered a confirmed case by CDC for epidemiologic surveillance in the absence of a rash, a person has to have laboratory evidence of infection and at least one late manifestation of Lyme disease. Late manifestations of Lyme disease considered diagnostic are: joint swelling, facial palsy or other specific signs of nervous system involvement, or specific cardiac conduction defects. The CDC also has criteria for a “probable case”, defined as physician-diagnosed Lyme disease that has laboratory evidence of infection. Suspected cases without an EM are those with laboratory evidence of infection but no clinical information available.

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Expanded Study Confirms That Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted

San Francisco, California December 19, 2014

An expanded study confirms that Lyme disease may be sexually transmitted. The study was published in the open access journal F1000Research .

Lyme disease is a tickborne infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of corkscrew-shaped bacteria known as a spirochete . The Lyme spirochete resembles the agent of syphilis, long recognized as the epitome of sexually transmitted diseases. In 2013 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that Lyme disease is much more common than previously thought, with over 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. That makes Lyme disease almost twice as common as breast cancer and six times more common than HIV/AIDS.

Our findings will change the way Lyme disease is viewed by doctors and patients, said Marianne Middelveen, lead author of the published study. It explains why the disease is more common than one would think if only ticks were involved in transmission.

Can You Get Lyme From Your Pets

Is Lyme Disease Transmitted Sexually

Theres no evidence of direct transmission of Lyme from pets to humans. But dogs and other domestic animals can bring Lyme-carrying ticks into your home. These ticks could attach to you and cause infection.

Its a good practice to check your pets for ticks after theyve been in tall grass, underbrush, or wooded areas where ticks are common.

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What Do We Conclude On Lyme Being Sexually Transmitted

Now, just because the Lyme bacteria hasnt been proven to be sexually transmissible doesnt mean that it isnt, but by the time this study comes out, cell phones will have long gone the way of the rotary phone. Even then, there will be the issue of acknowledgement by the government health agencies that we entrust our health and well-begin with, if the study doesnt mesh with their postulations.If you have chronic Lyme disease, and you are sexually active with someone who doesnt have Lyme disease, the best and responsible thing you can for now is to inform your partner — best before any sexual activity takes place — that you have Lyme disease and that it may or may not be sexaully transmitted. Explain the risks of acquiring chronic Lyme to your partner, as you know this best.

How To Tell If You Have Lyme

One of the telltale signs that doctors look for when diagnosing Lyme disease is a bulls-eye-shaped rash. This rash continues to expand over the next one to four weeks, starting at the red dot from the original bite.

Common Lyme disease symptoms include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes

If left untreated, more serious conditions, like arthritis, Bells palsy, and neuropathy, can develop. The vast majority of people who are treated for Lyme disease make a full recovery.

Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. Youll want to watch out for tiny black-legged ticks, called deer ticks. Deer ticks can be tricky to find since they may be as small as a poppy seed. The nymphs are less than two millimeters in size.

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Opinions From Famous Lyme Doctors Researchers And Healers

Stephen Buhner, Master Herbalist And Creator Of The Buhner Protocol For LymeDr. Marty Ross, M.D., Co-Founder Of TreatLyme.NetDr. Lee Cowden, M.D., Creator Of The Cowden Protocol For Lyme2013Dr. Warren Levin, M.D.2012Dr. Raphael Stricker, M.D.2006

Dr. Andrew Landerman, D.D.S., Biological Lyme DentistThey don’t understand that Lyme disease is sexually transmissible, and is passed through breast milk as well., .Dr. Dietrich K. Klinghardt, M.D., Ph.D.Blood transfusions, sexual contact, unpasteurized milk, trans-placental transmission, breast feeding, and food are all potential sources of infection. , 2014.They can likely be transmitted sexually via the urethra. , .

Tick To Human Lyme Disease Transmission

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For Lyme disease to spread from a tick to a human, the infected tick must bite you and remain attached for at least 24 to 36 hours. The ticks, who often live in tall grass and wooded areas, cling to humans in places that are hard to detect. Most of the ticks that transmit Lyme disease are young . These smaller, immature ticks are even harder to discover on the body.

Tick bites can happen almost all year round but are most common in the spring and summer months. There is no concrete evidence that a person can transmit Lyme disease to another human, except for the possibility of a pregnant person with untreated Lyme disease transferring the infection to their unborn child.

Once a tick finds an attachment site on your skin, it makes an incision to place its feeding tube. It secretes substances to help it stay in place. Tick saliva has properties that numb your skin so youre less likely to feel it. As the tick slowly sucks your blood, it can transmit bacteria that cause infections, like Lyme disease.

If youre worried about contracting Lyme disease, take precautions to avoid ticks in the first place:

  • Wear fully covering clothing when going outside .
  • Walk in the middle of trails instead of on the sides near trees and brush.
  • Avoid tall grass or areas with shrubs.

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Lyme Disease Risk Factors

Lyme disease occurs most frequently in children 5-14 years of age and adults 40-50 years of age. The most substantial risk factor for Lyme disease is exposure to the ticks located in the high-risk areas of the country listed above, particularly in the New England states, as well as Minnesota and Wisconsin. Additional risk factors include recreational and occupational exposure to ticks and outdoor activities, including gardening, in woods and fields in the high-risk areas.

Lyme Disease Frequently Asked Questions

If you have not done so already, remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers.

The chances that you might get Lyme disease from a single tick bite depend on the type of tick, where you acquired it, and how long it was attached to you. Many types of ticks bite people in the U.S., but only blacklegged ticks transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Furthermore, only blacklegged ticks in thehighly endemic areas of the northeastern and north central U.S. are commonly infected. Finally, blacklegged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease. This is why its so important to remove them promptly and to check your body daily for ticks if you live in an endemic area.

If you develop illness within a few weeks of a tick bite, see your health care provider right away. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash, fever, body aches, facial paralysis, and arthritis. Ticks can also transmit other diseases, so its important to be alert for any illness that follows a tick bite.


Moody KD, Barthold SW, 1991. Relative infectivity of Borrelia burgdorferi in Lewis rats by various routes of inoculation.Am J Trop Med Hyg 44: 135-9.

There are no reports of Lyme disease being spread to infants through breast milk. If you are diagnosed with Lyme disease and are also breastfeeding, make sure that your doctor knows this so that he or she can prescribe an antibiotic thats safe for use when breastfeeding.

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News: Recent Study Suggests That Lyme Disease Can Be Sexually Transmitted

Notes one researcher: There is always some risk of getting Lyme disease from a tick bite in the woods. But there may be a bigger risk of getting Lyme disease in the bedroom.

Press release, January 25, 2014:

Carmel, CA A new study suggests that Lyme disease may be sexually transmitted. The study was presented at the annual Western Regional Meeting of the American Federation for Medical Research, and an abstract of the research was published in the January issue of the Journal of Investigative Medicine.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of corkscrew- shaped bacteria known as a spirochete . The Lyme spirochete resembles the agent of syphilis, long recognized as the epitome of sexually transmitted diseases. Last summer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that Lyme disease is much more common than previously thought, with over 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. That makes Lyme disease almost twice as common as breast cancer and six times more common than HIV/AIDS.

Our findings will change the way Lyme disease is viewed by doctors and patients, said Marianne Middelveen, lead author of the study presented in Carmel. It explains why the disease is more common than one would think if only ticks were involved in transmission.

Reference: The Journal of Investigative Medicine 2014 62:280-281.

What To Do If You Get A Tick Bite

The Debate about how Lyme Disease is Transmitted?

If you have a tick bite, remove the tick from your body as soon as possible. Use a pair of tweezers and remove the entire tick from your skin without crushing it. Once the tick is out, wash the site with soap and water.

Keep an eye on the area for a rash that slowly expands, leaving a target-shaped mark. Also, watch for fevers, chills, headaches, or muscle pains, which are all early signs of Lyme disease. If you experience any of these symptoms within 30 days of the bite, you should contact a doctor.

Fortunately, most cases can be treated with a two- to four-week course of oral antibiotics.

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Can Lyme Disease Be Sexually Transmitted

First of all, if you have been treated for Lyme disease, even if your Western blot is positive, it is very unlikely that there are any spirochetes still circulating in your bodily fluids. Second, there is no good documentation that Lyme disease can be contracted by sexual contact. Given the number of cases of Lyme disease that have been diagnosed over the last 20 years and the fact that there are have been instances where people with active infection are having sexual intercourse but have not yet been treated, one would expect there to be many well documented cases of suspect partner to partner transmission this is not the case. Therefore, for all these reasons, it is highly unlikely that a person could acquire Lyme disease through unprotected intercourse or other sexual contact.

Is Lyme Disease Contagious

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi when the bite of an infected tick transfers the bacterium to humans during the tick’s blood meal. Lyme disease typically cause fever, headache, fatigue, and often shows a characteristic skin rash that looks like a bull’s-eye target . The disease can spread to the joints, heart, and the nervous system. Other mammals can be infected by tick bites. However, direct human-to-human, animal-to-animal and transmission between humans and animals does not occur. Only if a tick bites an infected person or animal, becomes infected, and then bites another human or animal, can the disease be transferred.

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How Can You Contract Lyme Disease

While we know there are no indications that Lyme disease is contagious, its important to know how Lyme disease can actually be passed on and in what circumstances you may contract the disease.

Lyme disease is also known as Lyme borreliosis and is an infectious disease caused by Borrelia bacteria, spread by ticks. Ticks are small, spider-shaped creatures that feed on the blood of mammals, including humans. The ticks that cause Lyme disease are commonly found in woodland and heavily forested areas. These types of habitats have a high number of tick-carrying animals, such as deer, mice, and sheep. Due to breeding patterns, the tick population is at its highest in late spring and early summer and can be found in rural areas.

Lyme disease is spread through the bite of infected ticks, most commonly black-legged ticks . Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the armpits, scalp, and groin. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.

To contract Lyme disease, you must be bitten by an infected tick, this tick must be attached to the skin for 36-48 hours, offering ample time for the bacteria to enter the bloodstream. This is how Lyme disease tests often pick up on the antibodies that are produced in the body in retaliation to the bacteria.

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Is Lyme Transmitted Through Sex

Lyme Disease, Animation

Research on the possible sexual transmission of Lyme disease has left some questions unanswered. It’s not clear if humans can pass Lyme disease to each other through sexual contact.

The molecular structure of Lyme disease is similar to a strain of syphilis, so scientists think it’s possible that transmission via mucous membranes could happen.

One study identified the presence of Lyme disease in the genital secretions of those who were infected, suggesting possible transmission between sexually active partners.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the theory that Lyme disease may be sexually transmitted. The CDC suggests that it is more likely for sexual partners to contract a similar strain of Lyme through tick bites occurring around the same time, even if one partner was bitten unknowingly.

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Whats The Most Common Way To Get Lyme

Blacklegged deer ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi transmit the Lyme bacteria when they bite. The ticks, Ixodes scapularis , can also transmit other disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These are called coinfections.

A tick requires a blood meal at each stage of its life as larvae, nymphs, and adults. Ticks normally feed on animals, ground-feeding birds, or reptiles. Humans are a secondary blood source.

Most bites to humans are from tick nymphs, which are the size of poppy seeds. Its hard to spot them, even on open skin. The prime seasons for human tick bites are late spring and summer.

As an infected tick feeds on you, it injects spirochetes into your blood. has shown that the severity of infection varies, depending on whether the spirochetes are from the ticks salivary glands or the ticks midgut. In this animal research, infection required 14 times more midgut spirochetes than saliva spirochetes.

Depending on the ticks bacterial virulence, you could be infected with Lyme within

Lyme bacteria may be found in bodily fluids, such as:

But theres no hard evidence that Lyme spreads from person to person via contact with bodily fluids. So dont worry about kissing someone with Lyme.

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