Lyme disease has been around for centuries. The first case of Lyme disease was recorded in 1883 in Germany. In 1909 Arvid Afzelius presented his research on the ring like rash (erythema migrans) which would later become known as the tell-tale rash of Lyme disease. He published his work in 1921 speculating the origin of the disease was from ticks and connected it to joint problems. Throughout the 20’s and 30’s evidence was found to link the disease to joint, neurological, heart, and psychiatric problems.
It wasn’t until 1975, thanks to a group of concerned mothers in Lyme Connecticut, that the first cases of Lyme disease were recorded in the United States. There was an extraordinary amount of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed in this small community. This would later become ground zero for the epidemic we now know as Lyme disease.
In the 1980’s, William Burgdorfer helped Jorge Benach investigate an outbreak of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which led to his discoveries linking Lyme disease and its many co-infections to ticks. Dr. Burgdorfer had been studying tick-borne diseases for 30 years. He was the first to show that Lyme spirochetes could be found in ticks throughout this country. It was due to his discoveries of the Lyme spirochetes that they were named after him, now known as Borrelia Burdorferi. Although several new strains of the Borrelia species have since been discovered, this strain is still the most common spirochete to cause Lyme disease.
In the late 1990’s a vaccine was developed for Lyme disease, LYMErix, and it was quickly removed from the market in 2002. GlaxoSmithKline claims it was due to poor sales. There were several lawsuits filed claiming that patients had become sickened and infected with Lyme disease after immunization. There is still much debate surrounding vaccination for Lyme disease, and there is not one currently available. Given the nature of the Lyme spirochete, use caution if any new vaccines become available.
There is much controversy surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. There is still a need for more research to learn more about how this disease works and the best way to prevent it and treat it. Anyone who claims to know everything about this disease, or that they have the “cure” is sadly misinformed and uneducated. The fact of the matter is, there is no cure, and no one knows for sure how or why the Lyme spirochete has become so evolved. No one completely understands all of the mechanisms surrounding this bacterium.
Science has come a long way over the past 100 years, and we do know that the Lyme spirochete has developed many mechanisms to evade immune responses and antibiotics. We do know that it is not easily erradicated, and it is a persistent infection. There is enough scientific and clinical evidence out there to disprove any claims that it can be cured with one course of antibiotics. In addition, there has been no proof presented to date that it is definitively erradicated with 30 days of antibiotic treatment in all cases (not even in most cases).
History is in the making with this complex disease. There is much left unknown and unrecognized.
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge – myth is more potent than history – dreams are more powerful than facts –
hope always triumphs over experience – laughter is the cure for grief –
love is stronger than death” ~Robert Fulghum