Continuing our two-part series on Lyme Disease for Lyme Disease Awareness Month, we welcome back my wife Kara as guest blogger.
To make matters even more complicated, ticks also carry other infections. If you have Lyme Disease, you will most likely have one or more of the other infections. The 3 most common co-infections are Bartonella, Ehrlichia and Babesia. Others include Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, mycoplasmas and viruses. They further complicate things by adding their own symptoms. The co-infections are pretty stealthy as well and do considerable damage.
So by this point, I'm sure you're thinking – OK, so if a person thinks they have Lyme or one of the other infections just go to the doctor and get tested. Not that simple. The “standard” test for Lyme Disease is the Western Blot. When it is performed by a “normal” lab such as LabCorp or Quest, this test is between 10% and 30% accurate. The CDC has known this from the start and has always said Lyme diagnosis is a clinical diagnosis. As in, diagnosed by the patient's symptoms. If a patient's symptoms are shouting, “Lyme Disease!”, a negative test result for Lyme Disease does NOT mean you don't have it. In many patients, it takes a while – some, years -- for the body to start producing antibodies. On the flip side, if the patient is very ill, their body may have stopped producing antibodies. Lyme and its co-infections are experts at literally turning off the immune system so it won't fight.
So how does one get diagnosed? Igenex in Palo Alto, CA is the best lab for diagnosing Tick Borne illnesses. Their western blot is about 70% accurate. It is also best to visit an LLMD. The majority of Mds do not know about Lyme Disease. Even when they say they do, they do not.
Once the patient is diagnosed and treatment begins (hopefully by an LLMD) there is hope for recovery. Much depends on how severe the case is and how long the patient has been infected. When the antibiotics kill borrelia or any of the co-infections, there is a die-off effect. The dead bacteria are very toxic and the body must dump all these toxins. The toxins make symptoms much worse and often create new or bring back old symptoms. Most patients feel much worse before they start to feel better. This can go on for months or years. Then, finally, there is progress and the healing process begins!
There are over 20,000 cases of Lyme Disease diagnosed annually. (See CDC's website.) The CDC conservatively estimates the number of undiagnosed and misdiagnosed cases to be at least 10 times that – 200,000 each year. They believe the actual numbers to be much higher.
Here are some websites that have good information about Lyme Disease. The last one is the movie trailer for “Under Our Skin”, a documentary about Lyme Disease.
If you have any questions, please ask. We can direct you to good sources for more information.