Summary of the Seminar
On July 15th, 2016, Lyme Warrior volunteers Lydia Aimone and Meredith Gavin attended an educational forum hosted by Focus on Lyme and the Stram Center for Integrative Medicine. News Channel 10 of Albany, NY covered the event, and our volunteers were lucky enough to be among the interviewees. This article written by News 10 describes one of the numerous topics discussed, at the forum: a new diagnostic test that is aiming to be available in 2018.
• Besides the introduction of the upcoming diagnostic test, the forum was a place where doctors, researchers and key leaders in the Lyme community could share their thoughts and findings, and get people fired up about changes to how the world treats people with Lyme Disease. Because the seminar covered quite a lot of information, here is a breakdown of some important points that were made:
• We focus a lot on Lyme Disease, but in fact, ticks carry many different pathogens in addition to the Borrelia burgdorferi (North American and European Lyme Disease bacteria). When contracted by us humans, we call these Co-Infections. Co-infections, how ever, are the Rule rather than the Exception, meaning it is more uncommon to only have Lyme Disease.
• There has been a significant increase in tick-borne illnesses. Overall, deer tick viruses have increased from 1-2% to 5-6% over the last 4 years. There have been 15 new species of Borrelia in the last 10 years; one of these, Borrelia miyamotoi, is believed to overtake the rates of Borrelia burgdorferi within the next 10 years.
• The Borrelia bacteria is an intracellular bacteria.
Intracellular means that the bacteria can travel to and from and set up shop in most every cellular system in our bodies. Most of us who have chronic Lyme Disease know this intrinsically. However, if you ever had any doubts as to whether your symptoms were real (and lets face it, most of us have had at least one doctor tell us its in our head), research done by Lyme Disease professionals have proven that it can invade and live in everything from our joints to our brain.
• In addition to it being intracellular, Borrelia is very persistent, causing patients to experience resurgence of symptoms. During the forum, we were given details of why it persists:
The bacteria hide under and are protected by biofilms.
The bacteria can exchange DNA.
The bacteria can go into a cystic form, and go dormant for years.
• Given all of this information, how do we treat Lyme Disease? One popular protocol is Pulsed Antibiotics. The problem that we are still facing is that this is only effective for active bacteria, and does not fully eradicate the bacteria in all its forms. During the forum, Dr. Richard Horowtiz announced the publication of an article that suggests the effective use of Dapsone, which can go inside cells to target the bacteria. You can read further about his findings here.
Scientific Research is an important cornerstone in improving the lives of Lyme Disease patients. A question I want to ask, though, is: How can we address the social aspects of Lyme Disease? How can we change how people perceive patients? How can we change our experience? How can we make fighting for better diagnosis and treatment a SOCIAL MOVEMENT?
The conversation will continue in the next post.........