Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb). It is a corkscrew-shaped spirochete which allows it to move throughout the body. It is generally transmitted after a bite from a Ixodes tick or more commonly known as a black-legged tick. Not every tick carries the bacteria, Bb, BUT a tick can transmit several pathogens with one bite.
After ticks hatch from eggs into the larvae stage, their first host is usually a small mammal such as the white-footed mouse. It has been found that it is actually the white-footed mouse that passes on the pathogen to a tick. Other small mammals have also been found to carry Borrelia burgdorferi including some birds. It was once believed that if you walked into a nest of larvae, no worries because you are their first meal. It has now been found that 6 to 73% (depending on the area) of larval ticks can be infected with Borrelia miyamotoi.
The CDC had a press release in 2013 stating that the number of new Lyme cases increased from 30,000 per year to 300,000 (CDC) and there may even be up to one million new patients each year. The testing is unreliable. Lyme Disease is a clinical diagnosis. There is one and a half times more Lyme cases than breast cancer and six times more cases than AIDS each year in the United States alone. We are in an epidemic and Kentucky is no different. We have had doctors in Kentucky state that we are as endemic as Wisconsin and that we may possibly have as many cases as Lyme, CT yet it is rare when we hear a story about Lyme in the media in Kentucky. Why? So many cases are being misdiagnosed with some other disease or condition such as fibromyalgia, MS, Lupus, ALS, Crohn's Disease, Alzheimer's and the list goes on. Lyme can "mimic" over 350 chronic diseases.
Photo of a spirochete courtesy of Dr. Alan MacDonald