Since it is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Loki would like to do his part in educating on the challenges of treating Lyme disease.
Borrelia Burgdorferi (Bb), the pathogen that causes Lyme disease, is both horrifying and fascinating in that it is designed to survive multiple environments and assaults.
There are three forms of Bb. The first is the Spirochete, which you see here in front of Loki’s paws. The spirochete is spiral shape, able to drill through tissues. Bb does not prefer oxygen rich environments, like the blood, so the spirochete will typically drill into tissues in the body, such in the joints, muscles, organs and brain. When its environment becomes stressful, the spirochetes roll up into a ball, changing to a cyst form, its second form. In this state, they can reproduce at a very slow rate. When confronted with other stresses, the spirochete changes to its third form, an L-form. In the L-form, the Borrelia does not have a cell wall and can hide from the host’s immune system and some antibiotics (which work by breaking down the cell wall). Once the environment is favorable, Bb turns back into spirochete form.
In addition to these three forms that help Bb evade attacks, Bb creates a biofilm environment, a polysaccharide-based environment that protects it from antibiotics and the body’s immune system. The biofilm is also known to host a variety of other tick borne pathogens as well, helping them survive under the radar of the immune system.
So Lyme disease basically has the Trifecta on surviving:
1. The three forms to evade the immune system and antibiotics
2. The biofilm to evade antibiotics and the immune system
3. It doesn’t hang out in the blood, making antibody tests unreliable & causing the patient to go undiagnosed for months and years.
The good news is that ILADS doctors are on the job and have been successful in helping patients recover from Lyme disease and its co-infections.