Banner source: whatislyme.com/swedens-only-lyme-doctor-under-investigation/
My twin sister flew in to visit from Sweden a couple of weeks ago. I remember her talking about finding a tick on her daughter’s chest and one between her own fingers in the last several weeks. She is very aware of Lyme Disease and was concerned due to my daughter’s struggle with the illness. She has been reassured by friends and family who have grown up and lived in her area of southern Sweden for many years that Lyme Disease is not common in the specific area where she lives. Unfortunately, times are changing and this epidemic is spreading. This study from 1995 states: “Lyme disease is very common in southern Sweden, with a relatively high frequency of neurologic complications and arthritis. With the exception of the low incidence of carditis, the pattern of disease we found in Sweden was similar to that reported in the United States.” This article was written over 20 years ago so you can imagine that it has spread even further in the last two decades. And don’t forget, in 2013, the CDC actually admitted to under reporting Lyme Disease by tenfold. In other words, they were reporting 30,000 cases per year when the real numbers were 300,000! Most people in the Lyme community agree that that is still likely a huge under-estimation.
On with my story: I was in the jacuzzi with my sister and she showed me a bite she had gotten on her leg from walking around her town about 4 weeks ago. She did not notice a tick but she definitely saw the bite later on. She had been wearing loose jeans and flip-flops frequently so a tick could have easily crawled up and made itself at home for a while without being noticed. The bite started as a bump then had some central clearing then spread out into what I immediately saw as a bullseye pattern. “I’m pretty sure that’s a bullseye rash,” I told her, “and you should definitely go see a doctor immediately.” The bullseye rash, or erythema migrans, is clinical confirmation of Lyme Disease.
Sources from Wikipedia (link above) state, “Erythema migrans is the only manifestation of Lyme disease in the United States that is sufficiently distinctive to allow clinical diagnosis in the absence of laboratory confirmation.” It is a pathognomonic sign: a physician-identified rash warrants an instant diagnosis of Lyme disease and immediate treatment without further testing, even by the strict criteria of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Such target lesions (bull’s-eye rashes) are characteristic of Borrelia infections, and no other pathogens are known that cause this form of rash. It is also true, though, that the rash in Lyme disease may also be solid rather than bullseye-shaped, so self-diagnosis cannot rule out Lyme disease, and a doctor visit is advisable.”
With that said, my sister, having traveler’s medical insurance, went to an urgent care where a local Southern California doctor was not quite sure what she was looking at. I expected this (as I already knew that most doctors in our area are not informed about Lyme Disease and its existence in our area let alone its existence in Europe!). The doctor did offer to run a test and she offered 10 days of antibiotics.
So, my sister had to pay out-of-pocket for the Lyme test. I told her to choose the cheapest test because it would not test for European strains of Borrelia so it might be a waste of money as the information will not be entirely accurate. It was the typical two-tiered test with an immunoassay and then a western blot only if the immunoassay was positive. Guess what?! The immunoassay was positive! That means the western blot was also run. Just like there is DNA specific to only humans, the western blot tests for DNA that is specific to only Borrelia. My sister tested positive for band 23. Bands 23-25 are outer surface protein C (OspC), specific for Borellia and can be an early band (meaning part of the early immune response to the borrelia bacteria).
Here’s a description of the significance of band 23 (link below):
“A Western Blot may report bands at 22, 23, 25, 31, 34, 39, and 41 kDa. Each of these bands represents an antibody response to a specific protein on the spirochete. The 41 band indicates an antibody to the flagella 41 kDa protein and is nonspecific. The 31 kDa band represents the OSPA protein and is specific for just a few species of Borrelia, as is the 34 band OSPB, and 23 kDa OSPC.” As well, band 23 is one of the “three most widely accepted and recognized Borrelia antigens. These antigens were the antigens chosen for human vaccine trials.”
Still, the doctor who saw her gave her the results but had no recommendations for more antibiotics or any further treatment! I truly can’t understand why doctors have no problem prescribing longer-term antibiotics for acne but not for the obvious indications of a disease that can affect you for the rest of your life if not taken care of immediately and appropriately. And they are actually the same antibiotics!!
My sister will follow up with doctors once she heads back to Sweden so I hope that she will not suffer any future issues! But one of the most important things to take from this post is that both my daughter and my twin sister (from Southern CA and Southern Sweden) have contracted Lyme Disease within the past 3 years!! Sadly, neither one was offered appropriate treatment!
THE WORLD NEEDS TO WAKE UP!!
For more information on the different bands of the Western Blot and their significance CLICK HERE!
For more information on Lyme Disease in Scandinavian countries CLICK HERE! (Sorry- there were no English translations available at the time of writing this blog but I presume most people searching will speak one of the Scandinavian languages…).