Tick Saliva With Healing Powers
Many ticks transfer bacteria or viruses that can lead to serious illnesses. If you get bitten by a tick in Germany, you could contract Lyme disease or Encephalitis. But the small animals can also do good. Oxford researchers have recently found out that a protein from the tick’s saliva can block infections, which makes it a potential cure for a certain type of heart disease.
Ticks – a plague for humans and animals alike
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What Is The History Of Lyme Disease
Interestingly, the disease only became apparent in 1975 when mothers of a group of children who lived near each other in Lyme, Conn., made researchers aware that their children had all been diagnosed with joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis. This unusual grouping of illnesses that appeared “rheumatoid” eventually led researchers to the identification of the bacterial cause of the children’s condition, which was then named “Lyme disease” in 1982.
The only vector for Lyme disease in the U.S. is the black-legged tick, or deer tick, known as Ixodes scapularis. These ticks are carriers of the Lyme disease spirochete in their stomachs Ixodes ticks may also transmit the Powassan virus. The ticks are vectors that can transmit the bacterium to humans with a tick bite. The number of cases of tick-borne illness in an area depends on the number of ticks present and how often the ticks are infected with the bacteria. In certain areas of New York, where Lyme disease is common, over half of the ticks are infected. Lyme disease has been reported most often in the northeastern United States, but it has been reported in all 50 states, as well as China, Europe, Japan, Australia, and parts of the former Soviet Union. In the United States, it is primarily contracted in the Northeast in the states from Maine to Maryland, in the Midwest in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in the West in Oregon and Northern California. What those children actually had was Lyme arthritis.
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Understanding The Acute Inflammatory Response
Suppose youre walking barefoot in the yard one summer day and accidentally step on a sharp piece of glass hidden in the grass. Pain alerts you to the injury and you stop to assess the situation. If the wound isnt deep, youre up to date on your tetanus vaccination, and a rinse in the sink reveals no foreign objects in the wound, you place a bandage over the area, and youre back on your way.
Swelling occurs because blood vessels dilate to allow an influx of WBCs and flush the area with fluid. Macrophages and arriving WBCs engulf debris, foreign matter, and microbes that have entered through the open wound, and destroy the material with potent free radicals and hypochlorous acid. Its a noxious process that causes collateral damage to normal cells, but its part of the healing process.
Once the injury is contained and the mess is cleaned up, WBCs migrate out of the area. Surviving cells repair damage from the injury and the inflammatory process itself. Gradually evidence of the injury disappears like nothing had ever happened.
Keeping Cells Free Of Debris
You depend on your immune system to keep the spaces between cells free of debris so that they get good flow. Specialized immune cells, called macrophages, constantly patrol your tissues searching for debris they are the garbage collectors of the immune system. Macrophages engulf debris from dead cells and then break it down with strong acid and potent free radicals.
This process is happening in the body all the timeyou couldnt survive without it. As long as the collection of debris doesnt exceed the capacity of the immune system to clean it up, you never know its happening. Its deemed inflammation only when accumulation of debris from cell turnover is greater than the immune system can process.
Tissues congested with debris stresses cells. When cells suffer, you feel it as symptoms. The type of symptoms depend on the types and location of cells that are suffering. Symptoms associated with inflammation can be transient and localized when cell injury is finite, such as with an acute injury, or chronic and systemic when cell injury is ongoing, such as with chronic Lyme disease or really any chronic illness.
Lets take a look at inflammation in more detail, particularly chronic inflammation as it impacts people with Lyme disease, along with the best ways to quash it.
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What Causes Lyme Disease In Humans
A bacterium called a “spirochete” causes Lyme disease, a tick-borne disease. In the United States, the actual name of the bacteria is Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii. In Europe, the bacteria Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii also cause Lyme disease. Certain ticks frequently found on deer, particularly white-tailed deer, from various locations harbor the bacterium in their stomachs. Dr. Burgdorfer originally discovered the spiral-shaped bacterium in the gut of the ticks in the United States, hence the naming Borrelia burgdorferi.
Lyme borreliosis is spread by these infected ticks when they bite the skin, which permits the transmission of the Borrelia spirochete through the skin to infect the body. So Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease. Lyme disease is not contagious from an affected person to someone else. Lyme disease can cause abnormalities in the skin, joints, heart, and nervous system. Borreliosis, a tick-borne disease, is an infectious disease that is reportable to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
Can You Die From Lyme Disease
If not treated, Lyme disease can sometimes be fatal. Death records collected by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. found that during a four year period from 1999 to 2003, 114 records listed Lyme disease as a cause of death. Left untreated, Lyme disease eventually spreads to the brain, heart, and joints where it can do a lot of damage.If it’s not promptly and aggressively treated, it may become chronic or may cause death later on.
Borrelia burgdorfi bacteria are not the only bacteria that ticks carry. Co-infections by other bacteria are often missed, such as Bartonella, Babesiosis, Mycoplasma fermentans, and Ehrlichiosis can also be transmitted. They can also be dangerous with their own set of symptoms, and people must be tested for them during the Lyme treatment. Co-infections can exacerbate Lyme disease or induce similar disease manifestations making the condition worse.
How can you die from Lyme disease? Possibly as Lyme bacteria are particularly difficult to kill, and in many cases the use of antibiotics only temporarily suppresses them. They prefer to travel in tissue because of their corkscrew shape, and they’re clever enough to conceal themselves by entering healthy cells, where they remain unnoticed by the immune system. As soon as the bacteria enter the blood stream, they quickly enter the central nervous system where they cause the most harm.
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Little Hope Of Improvement
There’s currently no plan for getting rid of the ticks for good, and it wouldn’t be an easy task either. The little parasites are quite robust and can survive a cycle in the washing machine as well as time in the freezer. If you have a tick bite, make sure your encephalitis vaccination is up-to-date.
Two Standards Of Care For Lyme Disease Treatment
There is significant controversy in science, medicine, and public policy regarding Lyme disease. Two medical societies hold widely divergent views on the best approach to diagnosing and treating Lyme disease. The conflict makes it difficult for patients to be properly diagnosed and receive treatment.
One medical society, the Infectious Diseases Society of America , regards Lyme disease as hard to catch and easy to cure with a short course of antibiotics. IDSA claims that spirochetal infection cannot persist in the body after a short course of antibiotics. The group also denies the existence of chronic Lyme disease.
In contrast, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society , regards Lyme disease as often difficult to diagnose and treat, resulting in persistent infection in many patients. ILADS recommends individualized treatment based on the severity of symptoms, the presence of tick-borne coinfections and patient response to treatment.
LDo believes that patients and their doctors should make Lyme disease treatment decisions together. This requires that patients be given sufficient information about the risks and benefits of different treatment options. Then, patient and health care provider can collaborate to reach an informed decision, based on the patients circumstances, beliefs and preferences.
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Does Lyme Disease Go Away On Its Own
Its certainly possible for people to get Lyme disease and to clear the infection on their own, without treatment, says Dr. Kuritzkes. But its better to be treated, because some of the complicationslike arthritis and myocarditis and damage to the central nervous systemcan be very serious.
The type of bacteria that causes Lyme disease is in the same general family as the type that causes syphilis, Dr. Kuritzkes explains. That doesnt mean anything similar in terms of transmission, but syphilis has several different phases, with primary and secondary and tertiary symptoms, he says. The infection can hide out in the body for a long time and can cause problems down the road if its not treated.
What’s The Best Way To Prevent A Tick Bite
Ticks can’t fly or jump. But they live in shrubs and bushes and can grab onto you when you pass by. To avoid getting bitten:
- Wear pants and socks in areas with lots of trees and when you touch fallen leaves.
- Wear a tick repellent on your skin and clothing that has DEET, lemon oil, or eucalyptus.
- For even more protection, use the chemical permethrin on clothing and camping gear.
- Shower within 2 hours after coming inside. Look for ticks on your skin, and wash ticks out of your hair.
- Put your clothing and any exposed gear into a hot dryer to kill whatever pests might be on them.
How do you know if you’ve been bitten?
Since ticks are so small, you’ve got to have pretty good eyes to see them.
If you have a small, red bump on your skin that looks like a mosquito bite, it could be a tick bite. If it goes away in a few days, itâs not a problem. Remember, a tick bite doesnât necessarily mean you have Lyme disease.
If you notice a rash in the shape of a bull’s-eye, you might have a tick bite. Talk to your doctor about treatment.
If you have an allergic reaction to ticks, you’ll notice a bite right away.
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What If I Don’t Feel Better After Treatment
If you’re treated for Lyme disease and don’t feel better after youve finished your treatment, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend a longer course of antibiotics or may be able to prescribe another medication to help with symptoms like joint or muscle pain.
You might also want to seek a second opinion, especially if your Lyme disease diagnosis was not initially confirmed via a two-step blood test. If your body has not responded to antibiotics, its possible that something else besides the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is making you sick. In 2017, for example, the CDC reported on a woman who was given antibiotics and herbal remedies to treat her chronic Lyme disease, when she actually hadand eventually died fromamyotrophic lateral sclerosis .
Even if you do recover completely from a Lyme disease diagnosis, your immune system may continue making antibodies to fight Lyme disease bacteria for months or even years after the infection is gone. Those antibodies wont protect you from getting a second Lyme disease infection, however, so be sure to take steps to protect yourself from ticks in the future.
How Long Does Lyme Disease Last
Lyme disease symptoms can begin anywhere from three to 30 days after transmission of the infection from a tick. If treated early on with antibiotics, most people feel better within a few weeks, says Dr. Zemel.
According to the CDC, its not uncommon for people to experience lingering symptoms like fatigue and joint or muscle pain for a few weeks or months after treatment. Additional antibiotics wont help these symptoms, however, and most people improve on their own over time.
In a small percentage of cases, people continue to experience symptoms for more than six months after their recommended course of antibiotics is completed. This is sometimes referred to as chronic Lyme diseasebut that name is misleading, says Dr. Kuritzkes, because there is no evidence that the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is still present in the body. Instead, the CDC refers to this condition as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome .
As with many other kinds of infectious diseases, some people are left with some debilitating symptoms that dont go away, says Dr. Kuritzkes. I like to compare it to polio: Some people who had polio are left paralyzed, but that doesnt mean they have chronic polio they have permanent damage from the infection, even after its gone away.
Its possible that Lyme infection leads to some damage that we dont fully understand yet, Dr. Kuritzkes adds. But we do know that long-term or repeated courses of antibiotics have no benefit in these cases.
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How To Avoid Tick Bites
To reduce the chance of being bitten:
- cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
- use insect repellent on your clothes and skin products containing DEET are best
- stay on clear paths whenever possible
- wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see and brush off
Essential Oils For Lyme Disease
It is believed that many essential oils have antimicrobial activities, and some people with persistent Lyme disease symptoms have turned to essential oils to help reduce symptoms of the disease.
Researchers tested 34 essential oils against B. burgdorferi in the lab and found cinnamon bark, clove bud, citronella, wintergreen, and oregano show strong activity against the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, even more effectively than daptomycin, the gold standard antibiotic many people with Lyme disease are prescribed.
These results indicate that essential oils show promise as treatments for persistent Lyme disease, but clinical trials are needed in order to show their effectiveness in humans.
When used properly, most essential oils are safe and free of adverse side effects. However, it is important to use them carefully. They can irritate the skin if not properly diluted, and some should not be taken internally.
Purchase high-quality essential oils that go through testing to ensure the product is safe to use. Follow the usage and dilution instructions on the label carefully. Talk with your healthcare professional before using essential oils to avoid drug interactions with any medications you are taking.
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What Are Complications Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can be complicated by permanent damage to joints, the heart, the brain, and the nervous system. There is recent research that demonstrates an increased risk for autoimmune forms of arthritis, including
Medically Reviewed on 12/22/2021N Engl J MedPrimer on the Rheumatic DiseasesN Engl J MedAmerican Academy of Family Physicians
Tobacco To Turn Off Ticks
Birds get ticks, too. The house finch has developed a strategy to fight ticks. A study in the Avian Biology journal has shown that breeding house finches use cigarette stubs to “proof” their nests. The nicotine wards off parasites, but sadly the neurotoxin can also have negative effects on the chicks.
Ticks – a plague for humans and animals alike
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Get An Accurate Diagnosis
To get an accurate diagnosis, you must first find the right doctor specializing in Lyme disease. Do the research and look for a doctor who has extensive knowledge, licensure and certification, and a high success rate working with patients.
This doctor may not be in the United States. One of the most well-renowned infectious diseases clinics is Lyme Mexico.
You may be thinking you cant travel to Mexico for help, but you can. You can spend the same amount of time and money visiting multiple doctors near your home without results. Or, you can meet with a top expert in Lyme disease and receive the treatment that gives you back the life you deserve.
Lyme literate doctors have modern and more aggressive treatments to help heal your Lyme disease. Lyme specialists not only know about more aggressive treatments, but they also provide them in their clinics on an outpatient basis.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed And Treated
Lyme disease is usually diagnosed when a person develops a bull’s-eye rash, flu-like symptoms , or both. These symptoms usually start a few days or weeks after the person is bitten by an infected tick.
A two-step blood test can verify the presence of Lyme disease antibodies, although it does take a few weeks for those antibodies to develop. And despite what some physicians and advocacy groups claim, a blood test is the only way Lyme disease can be confirmed, Larry Zemel, MD, head of rheumatology at Connecticut Childrens Medical Center, tells Health. Some doctors say they can diagnose Lyme even when patients test negative repeatedly, but that has not been borne out by any scientific study, he says.
When people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in its early stages, a 10- to 20-day course of oral antibioticsusually with a drug called doxycyclinewill clear the infection and help them feel better fairly quickly. This cures the vast majority of people, and they have a 100% recovery with no lasting effects, says Dr. Zemel.
If Lyme disease isnt diagnosed right away, it can cause more serious symptoms like arthritis and memory problems. These people may need a full month of oral antibiotics, says Dr. Zemel. About 20% of these patients will need IV antibiotics , and they may also need other medications to treat symptoms like pain and muscle stiffness.
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