The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that the number of reported Lyme disease transmission cases every year is really ten times that estimate. Instead of 30,000 cases a year, they feel it is more like 300,000 cases. This means that a tick infected with the Lyme disease bacteria of B. burgdorferi is transmitting the infection to 300,000 or more humans.
So, what is it about the transmission process that makes it so easy to become infected and develop Lyme disease? Most people think it is as simple as a tick bites a human and voila, they have Lyme. However, it is much more than that.
Understanding the Lyme disease transmission process can help you take steps toward prevention. Below are the essential must-know Lyme disease transmission facts.
Avoid Deer Ticks (Also Known as Blacklegged Ticks)
Deer ticks grow in phases. The first phase is when the female tick lays eggs. The eggs are very sticky and can get stuck on anything, even pets, where the eggs may stay until the second phase, the larval. This is when the eggs hatch and hoards of ticks begin searching for their first blood meal.
They usually find it on small animals. The third phase is the nymph phase, the most dangerous stage. Deer ticks go dormant during the winter during this stage and when they wake up in the Spring, they are searching for another blood meal.
It is this stage when a tick will transmit the B. burgdorferi bacteria to a human, after it latches on to them. After this stage, they become adults, get pregnant and the process starts all over again.
How Ticks Find and Attach to Their Host
Deer ticks, in the nymph stage, will lie in wait on the tips of grass blades. They don’t fall from trees, and they can’t fly or jump. Instead, they latch on to something from the ground, as it walks by. Many times, a human walk by and it grabs onto shoes, socks, or skin around the feet, ankles, and lower legs.
They then begin their journey up the body, searching for a spot they find to be best for biting. Well, it is more like they break skin with the intention of reaching your blood stream, which is where they transmit the bacteria.
Lyme Disease Transmission Process of Bacteria to Blood
Once a deer tick reaches your blood stream, the B. burgdorferi bacteria gets into your blood vessels. This is where it wants to live because it can hide very well, not even showing up on some Lyme disease tests. It gets into the lining of the walls of blood vessels, making it almost impossible to detect at times.
The first few days after this transmission are crucial for you and the bacteria. The bacteria are doing whatever it can to stay in your system. And the bacteria are extraordinarily strong. Even the way it moves through the blood shows its strength.
It has been compared to a child swinging on monkey bars. As a child travels, hanging on with only their hands, from one side of the monkey bars to the other, is how bacteria travels in your blood. With each swing to the next bar, one hand is off the bars and the other is still holding on to the bars.
Bacterium does not leg go either, making it ridiculously hard to flush out of your system. They even travel against the flow of blood. It would be like you walking into a strong gust of wind.
Lyme Disease Transmission Time After Tick Attachment
The first 36 hours between when bitten by a deer tick and starting antibiotics is crucial. The sooner, the better. Reports suggest you have a better chance of eliminating the progression of Lyme disease in your body.
As soon as you can start treatment, your doctor will likely start you on strong doses of antibiotics. Many doctors start with two-week intervals. However, recent reports suggest 21 to 28 days of antibiotics is more effective.
Working with a Lyme specialist is key to achieving positive results when fighting Lyme disease. Not because family physicians are not capable, it’s just that they are not equipped with modern tests, tools and equipment that have made advancements in how Lyme is treated.
Lyme disease tests today are only designed to detect antibodies (which take several weeks to develop and can persist in blood for months to even years) made by the body in response to infection, recently infected patients’ usually test negative.
If your physician does not discuss alternative treatments beyond antibiotics, nor explains that Lyme disease tests today are only designed to detect antibodies made by the body in response to infection (which takes several weeks to develop and can persist in the blood for months or even years), he or she is not Lyme-literate.
Once diagnosed, there are many other treatments available to help you fight the effects of Lyme disease. From hyperthermia to detoxes to supplements, all have shown quick results.
Is Lyme Disease Contagious?
This has been a question of debate for many years. Some researchers claim it is impossible for one human to give Lyme disease to another human. Other researchers say it is likely transmittable in some cases, like when bodily fluids come into contact.
While there have been no cases where kissing or having sex caused a person to get Lyme disease, there have also not been any cases disproving the theory either. Blood to blood transmission seems the most likely scenario in which this could happen.
Just because they haven’t proven blood to blood transmission of Lyme disease, all doctors and researchers tell you to avoid giving blood if you are diagnosed with Lyme. They also caution you to have blood tested if you are receiving a blood transfusion. Pregnant moms who are infected while giving birth may be able to transmit Lyme disease to their unborn child.
What we know for sure is that we need a lot more research to gain a better understanding of how Lyme disease is transmitted. What we know for sure is listed above. We can all agree that this is just simply not enough information, especially for an illness that can cause such devastating effects on a person’s lifestyle. As we learn more, we will make sure you learn more.