Lyme disease can be caused by four species of bacteria: Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia mayonii, Borrelia garinii and Borrelia afzelii. In the U.S., the primary causes of the disease are B. burgdorferi and B. mayonii, while the leading causes in Asia and Europe are B. garinii and B. afzelii.1
Most experts still attribute Lyme disease transmission exclusively to ticks, but according to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt — one of the top experts on Lyme — the bacteria can also be spread by other blood-sucking or biting insects.
How Lyme Disease Is Transmitted
Lyme disease-causing bacteria usually enter humans through the bite of an infected black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) or sheep tick (Ixodes ricinus).
The black-legged tick (also called the deer tick) is found in the north central, northeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S., while the western black-legged tick is found in the Pacific Coast of the U.S. The sheep tick is generally found in Europe and neighboring countries.2
Ticks can attach to any part of the body, but they are usually found in hard-to-see areas like the scalp, groin and armpits. The ticks that carry Lyme disease must be attached for at least 36 hours before the bacteria can be transmitted. In most cases, immature ticks, which are called nymphs, transmit the disease to humans.
Nymphs typically feed during spring and summer, and are very small (less than 2 millimeters) and difficult to see. However, adult ticks can also transmit the disease, but because they are much bigger, they are more likely to be discovered and removed before the infection is transmitted.3
How Do You Know If You Have Lyme Disease?
If you are infected, there is a 50 percent chance that you will develop a Lyme disease rash, which may be accompanied by recurring fever, unrelenting fatigue, headaches and achy muscles/joints.
The rash gradually spreads over several days, and may ultimately reach 12 inches across its biggest diameter.4 Conventional doctors can confirm your diagnosis using laboratory tests that identify antibodies to Lyme disease-causing bacteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the two-tiered testing system, although 56 percent of patients with Lyme test negative.5 It looks for antibodies that form when your body tries to fight off the disease. Laboratory tests are unreliable for diagnosing Lyme disease because the bacteria can infect white blood cells as well.
Such tests rely on the normal function of these cells in producing the antibodies that they measure. Hence, if your white blood cells are infected, they are unable to respond to an infection appropriately.
Lyme tests are generally more useful when you get treated first, because the immune system needs to begin responding normally before antibodies will show up on a blood test. This is often referred to as the “Lyme Paradox” — a proper diagnosis can only be made after the patient is treated. You should utilize the specialized laboratory called IGeneX, which offers more comprehensive and targeted testing for Lyme disease.