What is Lyme Disease?

What Is ‘Lyme Disease’? 

Lyme Disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States.  Lyme Disease is caused by four main species of bacteria: Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia afzelii, Borrelia garinii, and Borrelia mayoniiBorrelia burgdorferi is most common in the United States. 

The most common way of transmission is through the bite of an infected black-legged tick, commonly called the deer tick.  Lyme bacterium is a spirochete, which literally translates as “coiled hair”.  The corkscrew structure helps the Lyme spirochete worm its way through the tissue until it reaches the destination that it wishes to colonize.  Lyme spirochetes have over six perfect of their genetic makeup designated to motility, making them are highly mobile.  Lyme spirochetes love collagenous tissue, and are most commonly found in synovial fluid in the joints, aqueous humor in the eye, meninges in the brain, and collagenous tissues throughout the body, such as the skin, knees, and heart tissue.  

Borrelia rapidly rearranges their gene structure, which allows them to hide from antibiotics and better fit themselves into new hosts (such as humans and animals) by avoiding the immune system.  Different genomic composition results in different symptoms, making Lyme Disease extremely difficult to diagnosis and treat. 

Lyme spirochetes are patient and opportunistic, and will slowly destroy the body, without the host necessarily being aware of it.  Lyme spirochetes grow extremely slowly, every 8-12 hours (instead of every 20 minutes like most bacteria).  There are three stages of Lyme Disease: Early (days to weeks after initial infection), early-disseminated (weeks to months after initial infection), and late (months to years after initial infection).  The later treatment occurs, the harder it is to get rid of the disease.  When the host’s immune system weakens, either from the Borrelia or another source (such as the common cold or stress), Borrelia attacks the weakened body and spreads further in the body.  

Unlike popular belief, some of the ticks that pass this disease are so small that you may not even be aware of getting bitten by a tick, or be able to see the tick embedded in your skin.  Also contrary to popular belief, Lyme Disease only causes the stereotypical ‘bullseye rash’ (erythema migrans (EM)) that comes to mind when people think of Lyme Disease in about one third (37%) of the population infected with Lyme Disease.  Since tick bites can go unnoticed by the host, it is especially important to pay close attention and thoroughly examine your body for ticks if you live or spend time in grassy and heavily wooded areas.  

Stay Tuned: In the next posts, we’ll go into different symptoms to look out for with Lyme Disease so that you can be aware of what to look out for if you suspect you may have Lyme Disease.


“…Lyme disease has been ignored or trivialized by the medical profession for more than a quarter of a century.” ~ Dr. Richard I. Horowitz, MD.