What Exactly is Lyme Disease?


Let’s start out by actually defining Lyme
disease, because it’s not as simple as chicken pox. Correct. Lyme disease comes from a spirochete—a
bacteria. It’s like syphilis, and it has been around actually for thousands of years. It
turned out that the Neanderthal man thousands of years ago had Lyme disease. It’s not a
new disease—it has been around for a long time. You get it from the bite of an infected
tick. Now, there are questions right now whether
Lyme can be transmitted from mosquito bites or sexual transmission. There have been some
conversations about that in medical literature, but it’s essentially from the bite of an infected
tick. The problem is that most patients who see me don’t just get Lyme—they get a lot
of other infections because these ticks contain multiple bacteria, multiple viruses and parasites,
so it’s very complex. That’s really the key to it then. We talk
about Lyme disease generically, but the fact of the matter is that Lyme disease rarely
comes alone. That’s correct. If Lyme was alone, first of
all, when you treat it at the level of the bull’s-eye rash—by the way, half the people
don’t get rashes at all, and of the ones who do get rashes, it actually looks like a bull’s
eye in only about 15% to 20% to 25%. Doctors will make the diagnosis of cellulitis, an
infection in the skin, or a spider bit. So you don’t have to get Lyme disease. The problem
is if you get it early, you can cure it 75% to 80% of the time, but when you don’t get
it early, that’s when it goes on to the chronic disease state. You get persistent symptoms,
and those are the people who generally come to see me after they’ve seen 10 to 20 doctors.

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