From STAT we learn that Willie Burgdorfer, the Swiss microbiologist who discovered the Lyme bacterium also discovered a long discarded something else. The mysterious sounding Swiss Agent. Sleuthing the mysteries and controversies surrounding Lyme, modern day researchers have uncovered 40-year-old papers which denote the discovery of the Swiss Agent bacterium. In a note to himself, Burgdorfer asked himself: “I wondered why somebody didn’t do something.” “Then I realized that I am somebody.” The agent is known by science to be Rickettsia Helvetica. The organism is purported to cause a Lyme-like illness. The primary investigator at the CDC told the author that molecular biology methods will uncover the germ but the process will take several years. * (Their priorities are clear). Infection with the agent and associated illness is better known in Europe. It is said to cause debilitating symptoms including: fatigue, headaches, muscle weakness, meningitis, facial paralysis and (sarcoidosis?). I am not vouching for the veracity of this statement.
The paper lays bare, in the starkest terms, the gist of the issues central to the Lyme wars, naming names.
Rickettsia are a genus of tiny, gram negative, obligate intracellular bacteria. Intracellular bacteria are notoriously difficult to eradicate. The best known disease caused by Rickettsia is the redundant sounding Rickettsia rickettsii which causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. RMSF is one of the most severe and potentially devastating tickborne illnesses and thankfully is rare. Many of my patients test borderline positive for RMSF and I have long considered this evidence an unknown cross-reacting species of Rickettsia.
These germs are primarily treated with doxycycline. This is another reason why doxycycline should always be incorporated into the treatment of patients with tickborne illness, at least early on, unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.
I suspect this exotic sounding germ: The Swiss Agent – is a relatively minor and fairly benign coinfection.
We do not need another explanation for the chronicity of Lyme. The evidence, both clinically and in the laboratory is clear.
The article states the IDSA position is that Lyme is characterized by a bull’s eye rash and “pinpoint” lab test and cured with 2-4 weeks of antibiotics. Really?
The Lyme syndrome is consistently a product of Lyme (borreliosis), babesiosis and bartonellosis. The exact species of which is more often than not, an unknown.
A simple categorization based on stereotypic symptoms is more common than I would have once thought.
Babesiosis: recurring flulike symptoms, night sweats (or day sweats), air hunger, low grade fevers – usually in the late afternoon and depression with inexplicable sudden tearfulness (even in macho men).
Bartonellosis: Pain in non-joint regions (tendons, muscles, plantar fascia or bottom of feet, “shin splints,” neck pain, headaches and occasion characteristic rash. Other symptoms such as those of interstitial cystitis are also relatively common. Rather than depression, these patients complain of anxiety, irritability, anger, (Lyme rage) and other psychiatric symptoms.
Lyme: Everything else. Fatigue (all 3), Exhaustion, poor sleep, migratory joint pain, cognitive dysfunction with brain fog, trouble finding words, trouble thinking clearly, episodic confusion, getting lost etc., weakness, numbness and tingling and usually others symptoms suggesting broader multisystem connections, for example: floaters, ringing in the ears, racing heart, change in bowel/bladder function and others.
Patients will have visited many doctors and been told: they don’t have Lyme, they have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue, they need to see a psychiatrist.
Optimal treatment options are becoming clearer over time. I know longer write about the details of therapy. Treatment needs to ultimately cover Lyme and Lyme persisters and the two other prominent coinfections, comprising the “nuclear triad.”
Appointments in my office are currently available. Our hyperbaric oxygen therapy at 1.6 ATA (20 feet underwater) is currently underutilized and “on sale.”