Readers know - the suffering of Lyme is so great that contemplation of suicide is common. And then to make matters worse - so often, the degree of misery is unseen by those closest.
Many suffering with Lyme have heard from others: "I had Lyme: it was no big deal."
"He should only be in my body for one day!"
Maybe these unsympathetic individuals actually had a different version of the disease.
It turns out "Lyme" may a wide diversity of clinical presentations because patients are frequently infected with different strains of the organism.
Maybe we can begin to answer the question: why do some patients infected with Lyme with the tell tale EM rash never become sick without treatment, while others infected with Lyme disease treated early with recommended doses of antibiotics go on to develop full-blown chronic Lyme disease?
Research has shown that some strains of Borrelia burgdorgeri are more virulent, quickly causing dissemination into tissues, while others strains are relatively benign and may be associated with little or no disease. Borrelia bacteria show a surprising amount of genetic diversity.
Lyme bacteria have been here for thousands of years providing a long time frame for evolution and differentiation. The famous iceman dug up from the permafrost in the Italian alps in 1991 has now had an autopsy. The DNA from a fragment of hip bone showed an unexpected finding: Borrelia burgdorferi. Likely, persisting DNA from cystic forms. Still, I am surprised not only that Bb was found, but that it was found in bone.
The Lyme epidemic is world wide and has been found in all the continents with the possible exception of Australia.
It is confusing that bacteria with names like: B. afzeli, B. bissette, B. miyamotoi all cause "Lyme disease."
The international organization with classifies bacteria calls all species of Borrelia which cause human Lyme-like disease, (12 or more species) "Borrelia burdorgferi sensu latu." These associated illnesses have varying degrees of similarity and dissimilarity to our Lyme disease. Some of these species have crossed borders into other regions.
The Lyme disease bacteria we usually think of(in the US)is called Borrelia burdorferi sensu strictu. Even within this narrower sub-species of the Lyme community the genetic diversity is mind boggling and mostly unknown.
A recent scientific publication from the American Journal of Pathology studied three sub-strains of a sub-strain of Bb sensu stricto and found one sub-sub type to be more pathogenic than the others two.
To illustrate how diverse the Lyme zoo is: The study examined the pathogenicity of three strains of Borrelia burdorferi sensu strictu, Osp C (type A) known as RTST 1,2 and 3.
The Lyme Osp C (outer surface protein) is associated with the 23 band on a Western Blot. Its molecular weight can actually vary from 20-25 Kds. The OsP C protein is quite variable. Twenty-one types have been identified. One of these Osp C types, type A, was subdivided in this study into three more sub-variations based on " ribosomic RNA intragenic spacers." One was nastier than the others.
In other words, there are a gabillion versions of Lyme, some making us sicker than others.
Treatment may be difficult because of this unknown variety of strains. It is well documented that a single host can be simultaneously infected with multiple strains.
Of note: Dr. Allen Steere is one of the authors of the above described study.