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Like any other infection, Lyme disease represents a failure of the normal
defense mechanisms to maintain order in the face of a bacterial
infestation. Having said this, it appears that human beings are by
nature susceptible to infections by bacteria of this type, called
“spirochetes.” Syphilis, for example, is a spirochetal infection. There
are many spirochetes that live in the mouth normally.
Some people undoubtedly fight off Lyme disease successfully and
silently, but the extent of this phenomenon is not known.

Lyme disease, like Syphilis, is extremely variable in its
manifestations and presentations. They are both capable of causing extensive
and very serious damage to many organ systems, including the heart and
brain. · Links to more information — the Centers
for Disease Control
maintains a page for Lyme Disease. For a more
controversial source, go to LymeNet.

Rutgers University has published several web pages regarding Lyme disease.
For a good overall description, including proper tick identification,
see the
Rutgers site
.

Because untreated, or unsuccessfully treated Lyme disease
can be very destructive to the quality of life, I generally advise the
use of antibiotics, which are generally quite helpful. Sometimes, however,
antibiotics are not enough. As in any other infection, it is important
to consider how the basic defense mechanisms of the body can be assisted
to do what they should have done in the first place, that is to eradicate
the infection before any significant distress is caused. Homeopathic
treatment, along with attention to nutrition, sleep, stress control,
etc., should be effective in this effort. In cases where antibiotics
have no apparent effectiveness, I have seen this technique be quite
effective. As in any other problem, it is a matter of finding the correct
homeopathic medicine. I have one patient who has refused antibiotics
and who has made a dramatic recovery from moderately severe Lyme disease
(unable to walk because of knee problems and with mild cognitive problems).
I do not recommend this approach, however. In the case of Lyme disease,
whatever benefit can be achieved through the use of antibiotics is welcome.

The question of treating a tick bite with a short course or antibiotics
(a single dose of Doxycycline at 200 mg, for example) has been studied.
A link to a summary of the studies can be found at the Yale
University
website. Despite a high rate of Borellia burgdorfei infection
of deer ticks in New England, the risk of being infected, for a given
bite, has been estimated at 2 – 3.2%.

In addition, if Borellia burgdorfei has been transmitted, early and
brief administration of antibiotics may not result in bacteriologic
“cure” but may interfere with antibody formation, making subsequent
diagnosis even more difficult than it already is.

Accordingly, my policy regarding tick bites is as follows:
— identify the tick, if possible. Nymphal deer ticks bites cause 80%
of cases, adults (which however are much more rarely found than nymphal
forms) cause the rest;
— if the patient has already had lyme disease I am more likely to
consider early antibiotics;
— if the patient has never had, either await the onset of symptoms
and then treat, or do a full Western Blot (not simply the ELISA screening
test) in about 6 weeks. Although not a perfect test, it can be informative
and guide subsequent management.