Monday, May 21, 2012
MAY 20,21, 2012 LYME DISEASE: LIONS, TIGERS AND DEER ..OH MY!
I need an extraordinary amount of strength these days. I have fared through as best as I can and to best of my ability. No matter what we do in life, we need strength. The strength and the courage to go on. The willingness to live a full life with all of its ups and downs.
Dorothy and her friends, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion needed heart, common sense and courage. As I was growing up, my mother sometimes told me, "God gave you brains, but not a lot of common sense." This have may been true growing up, but hopefully in these last 30 years since her death I have acquired some common sense along the way. I need strength every single day, some days more than others. To gain my strength I need daily prayer and meditation.
Alfred Buchwald first recognized a condition similar to Lyme Disease back in 1883. Yes I said 1883. Let's go even further back. As far back as 1550 BC there is reference to a 'tick fever'. Throughout the 19th century European doctors treated cases similar to what we now know as Lyme Disease (LD) A tick in Europe known as Ixodes ricinus (castor bean tick) not Ixodes scapularis (the deer tick) causes a Lyme like illness. Polly Murray in Lyme Connecticut suffered from strange symptoms after her first pregnancy in the late 1950's. It was not until 1975 that she got her answers. Many children in Old Lyme, CT were being diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Young Dr. Steere started the ball rolling.
These tick larvae take the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) into their bodies in their first meal. It is on their next feed that the ticks are capable of transmitting the disease. Although the tick is called the deer tick-- deer do not become infected with Lyme Disease. I recall my children seeing the Fire Island deer with their ears covered in ticks and being sad that the deer were sick. The deer were not ill at all.
Today, Lyme Disease (LD) has reached what I consider epidemic proportions. In my volunteer years at the Doctor's Clinic in Fire Island I made many calls to Long Island's Suffolk County to find financial support to study Lyme Disease on Fire Island. Almost every summer resident has been bitten and more than 50% still carry the symptoms of Lyme Disease. Many residents get ticks while gardening. Some walk through the Judy Garland Memorial Park (aka Meat Rack). These are the woods between the two communities of Cherry Grove and The Pines. Thus the title, "Lions, Tigers and Deer..oh my." Some do not even know all the symptoms of Lymes.Ticks not only carry Bb, but other spirochete diseases such as Erlichiosis, Bartonella, Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis. There are roughly more than 900 species of ticks found worldwide.
Yesterday I saw a fellow boardwalk friend doing gardening in full regata- he looked like a man in a space suit. He didn't want to get bit again from a Lyme tick.
For me, as a doctor, clinically LD is classified into three stages (not unlike syphilis - also caused by a spirochete) There is the localized infection (caused by the bite) which can result in a bull's eye classic rash. This is not always present. Then there is early disseminated disorders like arthritis, fever, malaise, et al. Then there is the late chronic disseminated disease that is complex and poorly understood. I feel even the most thorough physicians cannot predict the third or latent stage of LD. This is now termed Chronic Persistent Lyme Syndrome (CPLS) Few trained infectious disease specialists even believe that this latent stage exists. Unfortunately for the patient, this chronic and complex stage does exist.
It affects the brain and the Central Nervous System (CNS). Damage from LD occurs in a majority of patients. It is a result of direct injury by the bacterium, autoimmune triggered vasculitis which thus reduces blood flow to the brain. There are also neurotoxins. All LD patients need cognition testing. Many describe brain fog, electrical shocks,tremors, weakness, spasms, crawling feeling under the skin, numbness, tingling, loss of sensation or even increased sensitivity. Then there is the poor balance and loss of coordination. The muscle spasm and arthritis are often misdiagnosed as some form of arthritis. LD is very often misdiagnosed as another infection. Most laboratories are not effective, unless sent to Stony Brook, New York or Palo Alto, California (Igenix).
Our NewYork office has treated many cases of LD. During my five years as a volunteer physician in Fire Island, I would treat at least 50 cases per summer. Most are able to taper off the antibiotics and control their symptoms. Some never get off some antibiotics. There are even MDs who have had their licenses revoked and then restored for giving high dose intravenous antibiotics when the epidemic first began. I believe rotating the antibiotics is the way to start treatment. As a MD RH (AHG) there are many effective herbal treatments for LD. Can we eradicate the pathogen? I do not know the answer to that question.
At this point I am convinced that it is better to have the patient symptom free or at least symptom suppressed. There are some that do not agree with this, but I ask you have you ever calculated the financial impact to the patient/insurance companies? What about the side effects of the treatment to the patient? Has the government/insurance companies ever studied the cost analysis of antibiotics to herbal therapies in regard to LD? I doubt it! I wonder if a child close to White House got LD-what would happen ?