I know this is a lot of info - but very important, I think. Note, especially the last sentence!
Dr. Burrascano's notes from a talk:
WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?
Lyme disease is the illness that results from the bite of an infected deer tick.
• Fastest growing vector-borne infectious disease in the USA
• CDC estimates are over 200,000 new cases per year!
• In the USA, rate of new cases exceeds that of HIV/AIDS
• Anyone can get it- affects all ages, both genders, and even our pets.
LYME IS NEARLY EVERYWHERE!
• Lyme has been reported in all 50 states
• Present worldwide- every continent except Antarctica
• In many areas, lawns have higher tick concentrations than the surrounding woods
• Ticks can survive down to 17 degrees below zero! (may still get tick bites in wintertime)
• Most people are bitten during usual daily activities
• Tick bite is painless
• Tick is so tiny, it can be missed.
• Only 16% recall a tick bite
• “Classic” rash (Erythema Migrans) occurs in only 1/3 to ½ of cases
• Subtle onset of nonspecific “viral-like” symptoms often obscure the diagnosis
• Blood test may miss up to ½ of cases!!!
• Spinal fluid serology positive in only 9%!!! (91% false negative rate!!!!)
MORE NEW STRAINS OF BORRELIA IDENTIFIED
• A new strain of Lyme Borrelia called SCW-30h has been found in the USA, in all areas.
• Another new one, B. americana has been found in the South from Texas to the Atlantic
• These are being investigated to find out if they can make you ill, and if so, how best to treat it.
• Atypical Lyme; seronegative Lyme.
• Ticks may carry DOZENS of potential pathogens. NATURE’S DIRTY NEEDLE!
• One tick bite can result in simultaneous co-infections by different germs
– Spirochetes (Lyme)
– Parasites (Babesia)
– Bacteria (Ehrlichia, Anaplasma)
– Mycoplasmas (Gulf-War and Chronic Fatigue germs)
– Viruses (T.B.E., West Nile Virus)
– Worms (nematodes)?
XMRV- A New Retrovirus- Is This Another Co-Infection?
• Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) was first isolated from prostate cancer patients
• Dr. Judy Mikovits looked for XMRV in CFIDS patients. She found it in only 3.7% of healthy controls but 95% of CFIDS cases were antibody positive and 68% were PCR-positive. Overall, 98% tested positive!
• Recently, the FDA has independently confirmed this study
• She and collaborating clinicians also found XMRV in Lyme, fibromyalgia, atypical MS and autism
• This is a retrovirus (as is HIV) and theoretically can cause or add to many symptoms and immune defects as seen in these illnesses, as well as in Lyme
• Three avenues of treatment are being studied:
– Anti-retroviral agents, as used in HIV
– Antiviral herbs
LYME- WHY THE CONCERN? ILLNESS CAN VARY FROM MILD TO VERY SEVERE
– Early Lyme, if promptly recognized and appropriately treated, can be cured
– Untreated Lyme may progress, causing a very severe illness and disability
– Can be latent for months to years, and later result in catastrophic, permanent damage
– Deaths have been reported
• Most symptoms are non-specific
• Mild symptoms often are dismissed
• Many medical errors due to lack of diagnosis
• More medical errors from incorrect diagnoses and unnecessary or dangerous treatments
– Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, depression, multiple sclerosis, ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease), malingering, Munchausen
• Often, patients see literally dozens of doctors and undergo an encyclopedia of tests, Lyme is missed, and they still have no diagnosis
• When medical doctors cannot find a cause for the complaints, they refer patients to a psychiatrist (blame the patient for his/her illness!)
• Can be transmitted from mother to child.
TYPES OF LYME DISEASE
• “Classic” Lyme (my definition) includes:
– Early localized
– Early disseminated
– Late disseminated
• Chronic Lyme Disease
– Illness present for one year or longer
– Is a totally different disease!
– May not be curable!
DIAGNOSING LYME A difficult task! SYMPTOMS
• Headaches, photophobia, stiff neck
• Fatigue, intolerance of exercise
• Aches in and around joints
• Numbness, tingles, sense of vibration
• Poor coordination, imbalance, light-headed, need to sit or lie down, especially in afternoon
• Forgetful, confused, speech errors, ADD-like
• Sleep disturbance
• Neuropsychiatric- anxiety, panic attacks, depression, rage attacks, antisocial behavior
• Intolerance of stress, alcohol, sleep deprivation (any of these will make all symptoms worse).
• LYME (Borrelia burgdorferi)
– Serologic tests (ELISA, Western Blot)
– Sensitivity is poor: Commercial labs: 50% Private reference labs (Igenex): 70%
– PCR- also poorly sensitive- less than 30%
• Even a spinal tap serology will miss over 90% of cases!
– Situation is worse- pick up 30% at best!!!!
• Conclusion: LYME IS A CLINICAL DIAGNOSIS.
ERYTHEMA MIGRANS- TYPICAL “BULLSEYE” RASH
• Expands over time, Painless, Raised, May be warm.
RINGWORM– Scaly center– Not raised or warm.
SPIDER BITE– Painful!– Necrotic center.
MAKING A CLINICAL DIAGNOSIS: THE POINT SYSTEM
• Tick exposure in an endemic region 1
• History consistent with Lyme 2
• Systemic signs & symptoms consistent with Bb infection (other potential diagnoses excluded):
• Single system, e.g., monoarthritis 1
• Two or more systems 2
• Erythema migrans, physician confirmed 7
• ACA, biopsy confirmed 7
• Seropositivity 3
• Seroconversion on paired sera 4
• Tissue microscopy, silver stain 3
• Tissue microscopy, monoclonal IFA 4
• Culture positivity 4
• B. burgdorferi antigen recovery 4
• B. burgdorferi DNA/RNA recovery 4.
• Lyme Borreliosis Highly Likely: 7 or above
• Lyme Borreliosis Possible: 5-6
• Lyme Borreliosis Unlikely: 4 or below.
CD-57 COUNT (Natural Killer Cells)
• Low counts seen in Chronic Lyme when the infection has been active greater than 1 year
• Reflects degree of infection
• CAN BE A SCREENING TEST!
• Predicts a relapse if low when antibiotics end
• Must use method of LabCorp (normal is greater than 180)
– Less than 20- severe illness
– 20-60- most common result in chronic patients
– Greater than 60- Lyme activity minimal
– Greater than 120- Relapse NOT likely after treatment ends.
• Rapid diagnosis is critical- fully curable at this stage if treated properly
– Start treatment as soon as possible
– If a rash is present, start treatment immediately!
• Do not wait for blood tests- Tests may take weeks to become positive or may NEVER get a positive test!
– If no rash, but high suspicion, treat, observe clinically, and retest serially.
TREATMENT OF EARLY LYME
Oral antibiotic for 4 to 6 weeks
• Shorter courses associated with a linear rate of treatment failures
• Be sure to use full doses!
– Lyme has already spread to other areas
– Already in the central nervous system
– Inadequate treatment may worsen later illness (“survival of the fittest”)
• APPROPRIATE TREATMENT OF EARLY LYME MAY PREVENT CHRONIC LYME.
• By definition, present for more than six weeks, but less than one year
• Initial non-specific symptoms gradually change to involve multiple discrete organ systems:
– Joints (pain, stiffness, subtle swelling)
– Peripheral nerves (numbness, tingles, weakness, vibration)
– Central nervous system (“brain fog”, impaired short-term memory, confusion, mood disorders)
– Original, general symptoms may persist (headache, fatigue, sweats, etc.)
• Specific patterns develop:
– Monthly cycle of waxing and waning illness
– Symptoms affecting major organ systems “migrate”- move around.
TREATMENT OF DISSEMINATED LYME
• Start with orals if possible
• If very ill, pregnant, or cannot tolerate oral antibiotics, then may need IV therapy for 6 to 12 weeks, followed by oral therapy if the infection is still active
• May need combination therapy (co-administration of two or more dissimilar antibiotics)
• Duration of treatment often mirrors duration of illness- treat for 6 weeks to 6+ months
• Must be free of signs of active infection before treatment ends.
CHRONIC LYME DISEASE
DEFINITION- ILL WITH LYME FOR ONE OR MORE YEARS
• Is the start of clinically significant immune breakdown
– Decreased function and numbers of all three arms of immunity: B, T and NK cells
– Elevated cytokine levels cause many of the symptoms, and further impair the immune response
– Because most Lyme tests are serologies, which measure immune response to B. burgdorferi, a weakened immune system may result in more false negative tests
• PARADOX: The sicker patient is more likely to have a negative (non-reactive) Lyme serology!
Very complex disease:
• Difficult to diagnose
• Broad spectrum of illness, from subclinical to severely debilitating, and rarely, can be fatal
• Extremely difficult to treat the infections
• Extremely difficult to manage totality of complaints
• May not be curable in some- why is a chronic illness.
• Primary symptoms of Chronic Lyme are NEUROLOGICAL (nearly every patient)
– Encephalopathy and encephalitis, Peripheral and autonomic neuropathy, Demyelination- central and peripheral
• Inflammatory arthritis in only 5%
• Myositis (muscle inflammation) rare, and Carditis (heart inflammation) also rare
• Immune suppression allows co-infections to flourish, and opportunistic infections (yeast, etc) become more of a problem.
CHRONIC LYME IS MORE THAN AN INFECTION
• Immune “Dysregulation”: Immune activation & Immune suppression
• Neurotoxins, Hormonal disturbances, Damage to organs, tissues, cells and DNA
• Nutritional disturbances, Metabolic effects.
TREATMENT OF CHRONIC LYME
• Antibiotics, usually in combinations
– Antibiotic synergism, cover all infected tissues, cover alternate forms of Bb, and co-infections
• Nearly every chronic Lyme patient is a candidate for IV antibiotics
• Supportive treatments– Vitamins, probiotics, exercise, low carb diet, no alcohol, enforced rest
• If neurologic symptoms do not clear, there is the option to treat with IVIG.
INDICATIONS FOR INTRAVENOUS THERAPY
• Abnormal spinal fluid (↑WBC, ↑Protein)
• Synovitis with high ESR
• Illness for more than one year
• Age over 60
• Acute disseminated illness in first trimester
• Acute carditis
• Documented immune deficiency
• Prior use of steroids or other immunosuppressants
• Failure or intolerance of oral therapy.
DURATION OF ANTIBIOTIC THERAPY- CONTROVERSIAL!
• Restrictive guidelines by Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA)
– Maximum is one month; rarely will repeat
– No allowance for physician’s clinical judgment or degree of illness of the patient
– No consideration of co-infections
– Under investigation by the Connecticut Attorney General!
• More realistic guidelines by International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS)
– Treatment is individualized, based on patient need and response, and may have to be given for months to years.
- Treatment Issues
• In chronic Lyme Disease, active infection may persist despite prior antibiotic therapy
• Relapses do occur and retreatment is often needed
• Repeated or prolonged antibiotic therapy usually is necessary
• High doses of antibiotics are needed, and blood levels should be confirmed wherever possible
• Antibiotic combinations usually are necessary
• Check for co-infections and immune status, and treat appropriately
• May need to rotate through different regimens based on response
• If the CD-57 count is not normal at the end of treatment, then continued illness or a relapse is likely
• May not cure the infection, and may need repeated or open-ended maintenance therapy
• Signs of persistence of infection:
– continued fevers, synovitis
– four week cycles, migrating symptoms
– PCR positivity and low CD-57 counts
• As symptoms wind down, I DO NOT cut the dose, for resistance may develop
• Aggressive supportive therapy is required- and search for any other possible cause of a weakened host:
– Toxin exposure, heavy metal poisoning, malnutrition, endocrine dysfunction, other illnesses, severe or ongoing stress
• Progressively increase exercise program as the symptoms of Lyme decrease
– Exercise is vital and required, or a full recovery will not occur
– Not exercising will increase risk of a relapse.
CO-INFECTIONS IN LYME
Nearly universal in chronic Lyme
• Symptoms more vague, and overlap
• Diagnostic tests LESS reliable
• Co-infected patients are more ill and more difficult to treat
• Lyme treatments do not treat Babesia, Bartonella or viruses
• One reason for “treatment-resistant” Lyme
• Bartonella, Babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Mycoplasma, Viruses, Nematodes?
BARTONELLA-LIKE ORGANISMS (“BLO”)
• More prevalent in NJ ticks than even Borrelia!
• Clinically, seems to be a different species than “cat scratch disease” (?Tularemia)
• Persistent CNS symptoms despite Lyme Rx
• CNS symptoms out of proportion to physical
– Irritability, anxiety, insomnia, seizures, rage attacks, encephalopathy-encephalitis, psychiatric syndromes,
– Also gastritis, rashes, tender skin nodules, sore soles, AM fevers, light night sweats
• CSD serologies and PCR tests are insensitive!
– Miss up to 80% of clinically defined cases
• Bartonella FISH soon to be available.
BARTONELLA-LIKE ORGANISMS- TREATMENT-
• Levofloxacin (Levaquin) is drug of choice- 500 mg daily, and consider adding a proton pump inhibitor
• Cell wall drugs suppress but do not kill BLO, but may synergize with fluoroquinolone
• Rifampin and metronidazole may be alternatives
• Erythromycins alone totally ineffective, and may inhibit concurrent fluoroquinolone. However, may work if given with rifampin
• Response to doxycycline alone variable but usually poor- may be combined with rifampin
• Combination of rifampin + Bactrim has had some success
• Treat for 1 to 3+ months if tolerated.
PIROPLASMS (Babesia species)
• Many different species found in ticks (13+). Can test for only B. microti and B. duncani
• B. duncani more difficult to treat than B. microti
• Diagnostic tests insensitive
• Chronic persistent infection documented
• Infection is immunosuppressive
• Renders Lyme more severe and more difficult to treat, with worse symptoms and more organ damage.
BABESIOSIS- ACUTE AND CHRONIC INFECTIONS
– Abrupt onset of symptoms; no rash
– Spectrum of mild to severe presentations
– Can be fatal!
– Symptoms blend with those of Lyme and diagnosis often missed.
• Standard smears useful only for acute infections
– Smears universally negative after two weeks
• Enhanced smears-
– Buffy coat
– Prolonged scanning, with digital photography
• Fluorescent in-situ hybridization assay
– Fluorescent-linked RNA probe
– Increases sensitivity 100-fold over conventional Giemsa-stained smears
• PCR and serology
• All methods are of low yield, but may not overlap! Therefore, recommend use all available tests.
DIAGNOSING ACUTE BABESIOSIS
• Acute onset of symptoms
– Sweats, high fever, chills, headache, dark urine, acute hemolytic anemia, severe illness
• Blood smear usually reliable
• Serologic tests may convert within one week, but not always reliable
• Rule out other acute infections.
DIAGNOSING CHRONIC BABESIOSIS
• Acute onset of initial illness
• Incomplete response to Lyme treatments
• **Symptoms more severe than expected with Lyme alone**
– Marked night sweats which may cycle every several days
– Air hunger, cough
– Severe persistent headaches
– Unrelenting fatigue
– Off balance- “tippy”, not vertigo
• ANY positive test in proper clinical setting.
• Is a parasite, so is treated differently than Lyme, but can be treated concurrently while on Lyme medications
• Mepron (atovaquone) 5+ cc bid, plus azithromycin 600 mg daily for 4 to 6 months minimum, but higher doses may be needed, especially with B. duncani
• Oral clindamycin + quinine rarely used as first line
• Malarone (atovaquone + proguanil), 6+ tabs daily
• Added sulfur (Bactrim DS), 2 to 4 daily
• Added metronidazole (Flagyl), 750 to 1500 mg/d
• Always add artemesia or artemesenin but must be given in cycles- 2-3 weeks on, and 1-2 weeks off
• No Co-Q 10
• In extremely difficult cases, IV clindamycin may be helpful.
EHRLICHIOSIS AND ANAPLASMOSIS
• Less common than the other tick-borne infections
• Acute and chronic forms
• Acute- rarely, causes a spotted rash
– Abrupt onset, high fever, muscle pain, headache, low WBC count, elevated liver enzymes
– Headaches and muscle soreness
– Persistent leucopenia
– Test with serology, PCR or smear
• Treat with doxycycline for 2 to 4 weeks
• Fluoroquinolones and rifampin MAY be (poor) alternatives.
• “Chronic fatigue” germ
• Not clear its origin or source
• More often seen in the immunosuppressed
• Test with serial PCRs (still insensitive)
• Treat with doxycycline and/or a fluoroquinolone, and add hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
• Erythromycins & rifampin, with added hydroxychloroquine OK but less effective
• Treat for three years?
• Restoring better immune function is probably the best approach.
Especially in the chronic Lyme and immunosuppressed patients
• Viruses: TBE, West Nile, HHV-6, CMV, other herpes, bornavirus
• Chlamydia, Yeasts, Q-fever?, XMRV?, Others?
SORTING IT ALL OUT !
– Multisystem, 4-week cycles, afternoon fevers, no sweats, gradual onset of illness.
– CNS out of proportion to skeletal
– CNS irritability, GI, Sore soles, sub Q nodules, AM fevers, light sweats, gradual onset of illness.
– Sweats, fatigue, global headaches, air hunger, cough, hypercoaguable, cycles every few days, rapid onset, very severe Lyme symptoms.
– Headaches (knife-like), muscles, low WBC, elevated liver function tests, rapid onset.
– Fatigue, poor exercise tolerance, slow or minimal response to antibiotics, lots of neuropathy.
TREATMENT More Than Antibiotics!
• Enforced rest, No caffeine, No alcohol, No smoking at all, Low carb, high quality protein diet
• Daily vitamins and other nutritional support, Maintain hydration, Exercise program, Never any steroids!
CLINICAL MEDICINE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: LYME DENIALISM
• If the test does not show it, it does not exist
• If organized medicine did not discover it, it does not exist
• New illnesses become real only after years or decades of clinical trials
• But– will not perform clinical trials on something that does not exist!
WHAT MUST BE DONE
• EDUCATION: Become your own advocate
• AWARENESS: Keep up with not only the latest medical news, but also the political developments
• ADVOCACY: “We will not go away”; Support those who support you
• NEVER GIVE UP