It’s been known for some time that Lyme disease is spreading and while many don’t like to admit it, the disease is on the West Coast. How is this possible if the tick responsible for Lyme disease is not prominent on the West Coast? A new study suggests this condition is being spread another way.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are 300,000 new cases every year of Lyme disease in the United States alone; however, not everyone agrees with this estimation and believes the number to be closer to 500,000 new cases per year. This means that the number of individuals affected by Lyme disease is 1.5 times higher than the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer and 6 times higher than the number of individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS every year in the U.S., but how is this disease spreading so quickly?
Sexually Transmitted Lyme Disease
A new study presented at the annual Western Regional Meeting of the American Federation for Medical Research suggests that Lyme disease may be sexually transmitted. The study was conducted on three groups of individuals: control subjects without Lyme disease, those who had tested positive for Lyme, and couples that tested positive for Lyme and admitted to engaging in unprotected sex. Researchers obtained genital secretions from the subjects and the results were as follows:
- The secretions from those who tested negative for Lyme disease were free of Borrelia burgdorferi.
- 12 of the 13 secretion samples from those that had previously tested positive for the disease did contain Borrelia burgdorferi.
- The secretions from the couples contained identical strains as their partner.
This information would explain why Lyme disease is spreading at a rapid pace and to areas once thought untouchable.
Dr. Mayne, the individual that published the first comprehensive Lyme disease study in Australia states, “The presence of live spriochetes in genital secretions and identical strains in sexually active couples strongly suggests that sexual transmission of Lyme disease occurs. We need to do more research to determine the risk of sexual transmission of this syphilis-like organism.”
Stopping the Spread of Lyme Disease
There are a few precautions you can take in order to prevent a tick bite and contracting the disease that way.
- Repellant – The most common form of protection is bug repellant; however, the chemicals found in common repellants can cause other problems, so it is important to find a natural tick or bug repellant.
- Check your dog – Your furry companion may be your undoing if he is carrying around this pest. Make sure you check your pet after a walk or whenever they come inside.
- Cover every inch – This may seem silly and even uncomfortable, but one way to prevent ticks from latching on is by covering up your body when going for a walk or hike. This includes tucking your pants into your socks and wearing long sleeve shirts.
- Be bright – Wear bright colored clothing. This will make it easier for you to see a tick before it is able to access your skin.
- Stay on the path – If you’re out hiking, make sure you stay on the trail. Ticks tend to enjoy the high vegetation so you’ll avoid this by staying on the path.
These tips will help you avoid tick bites, but with this new research you can add protected sex to the Lyme prevention list.
Dr. Mayne made a good point: More research is needed on this topic. Doctors need to better understand both the transmission and the treatment.
1. Study Confirms That Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted https://f1000research.com/articles/3-309/v1
2. Recent study suggests that Lyme disease can be sexually transmitted https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-sexual-transmission-2/
3. 10 Tips to Avoid Tick Bites http://insects.about.com/od/insectpests/a/avoidticks.htm/