The Lyme Wars

by Christopher Paul on June 26, 2013

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood where the cul-de-sac had no housing around it – just a wooded area that separated other developments. I crawled under bushes and thick brush to get there. I never worried about Lyme Disease. But now, I worry about ticks and the pathogens they spread every time I walk on the grass.

Crazy? Perhaps but read this about Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme:

“Borrelia is a remarkable creature,” he told me. “It has all my respect.” He went on to explain that the bacterium, after slipping through the tick’s mouthparts, can change its form, cloaking itself in the surface proteins of the tick’s saliva. Then, much like H.I.V., the bacterium hijacks the immune system. “It doesn’t stay in the bloodstream for long,” he said. “Instead, borrelia manages to insinuate itself into parts of the body that have fewer circulating antibodies, where it is harder for antibiotics to reach.”

Scientists equate Lyme and ticks to malaria and mosquitos – forming a symbiotic relationship:

…at least four pathogens, in addition to the Lyme bacterium, can be transmitted by the black-legged tick: Anaplasma phagocytophilium, which causes anaplasmosis; Babesia microti, which causes babesiosis; Borrelia miyamotoi, a recently discovered genetic relative of the Lyme spirochete; and Powassan virus. Some of these infections are more dangerous than Lyme, and more than one can infect a person at the same time. Simultaneous infection, scientists suggest, may well enhance the strength of the assault on the immune system, while making the disease itself harder to treat or recognize.

I’ll take my urban jungle, thank you very much.

via The Feature

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