Anatomy and Physiology 1, BIO 149
Professor Dr. Season Thomson
March 13, 2013
Lyme’s disease is a bacterial infection caused by the spirochete Borrelia (B.) burgdorferi which is carried and transmitted to humans by the deer tick. Infection with Lyme’s disease is a fairly recent phenomena; the first case was diagnosed in 1975. It is a multi-system disease with many signs and symptoms that make a definitive diagnosis difficult. The typical first symptom is a bull’s eye rash called Erythema migrans, followed by flu-like symptoms. Later manifestations may include joint problems, cardiac and neurological symptoms. Scientists remain uncertain of all the mechanisms of this multi-system disease and continue to search for accurate diagnostic tests and effective treatment protocols.
Lyme’s Disease; Is There a Cure?
Lyme’s disease is a bacterial infection caused by the spirochete Borrelia (B.) burgdorferi believed to be carried and transmitted by the bite of the blacklegged or deer tick. It is the most common insect-borne illness in the United States with approximately 30,000 cases reported annually to the Center for Disease Control (2011). Infection with Lyme’s disease is a fairly recent phenomenon which, according to Alcamo & Elson (1996), was first reported in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975.
Currently, the highest incidence of Lyme’s disease occurs in the northeastern and north-central states and along the West Coast. Embers & Narasimhan state that cases have also been reported in Canada, Europe, Germany, Russia, China, and Japan. Lyme spirochetes have been identified in Asia and Australia, but the actual incidence of disease in those countries is unclear (2012).
Although there is a growing awareness of the problem of Lyme’s disease, its diagnosis and treatment remain controversial and infection rates continue to climb. Conventional treatment with antibiotics has been met with greater or lesser success. Many co-infections appear in conjunction with Lyme’s disease and further complicate accurate diagnosis.
Lyme’s disease affects multiple systems simultaneously and gives rise to a myriad of dissimilar symptoms of the integumentary, nervous, and cardiac systems. The body’s generalized immune functions also respond with general malaise and flu-like symptoms.
The skin covers the body and is the first line of defense against disease, protecting it from the entrance of harmful microorganisms and pathogens. When the skin is broken by the bite of the blacklegged tick and the Borrelia (B.) burgdorferi spirochete introduced, the skin will generally exhibit signs of infection with a tell-tale bull’s eye rash. After introduction of the spirochete, the immune system tries to fight off the pathogen with increased lymphatic activity and a low-grade fever. Symptoms that mimic a common flu often appear, alerting the host of foreign microbial infection while attempting to rid itself of the pathogen.
The Borrelia (B.) burgdorferi bacteria may also affect the nervous system. In a healthy nervous system, the senses collect and transmit information to the brain where it is interpreted and signals are sent out to the rest of the body. Inflammation inhibits the proper conveyance of data and may result in weakness or absence of signals.
Proper activity of the heart is essential for life; it pumps oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body and rids it of waste products. Late Lyme’s disease may affect heart rhythms and lead to eventual heart failure.
Disease Process and Etiology
The tick has a two-year life cycle consisting of three developmental stages; larva, nymph, and adult. Each stage must have at least one blood meal in order to complete its development. Larvae become infected through feeding, develop into infected nymphs, and finally become infected adults.
A.D.A.M. Multimedia Encyclopedia describes the