Lyme borreliosis complex
What is Lyme disease?
Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria responsible for Lyme Borreliosis Complex
Lyme Borreliosis Complex, commonly known as Lyme Disease, is an inflammatory condition initially characterized by a rash, headache, fever, and chills, followed by potential arthritis and neurological and cardiac disorders. Only about 9% get the classic bull’s eye rash. Others may get another type of Erythema Migrans (EM) rash or may get no rash at all. Rash at a location other than the bite site may be disseminated disease. Symptoms may occur days or months after a tick bite. It is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of spirochete bacteria transmitted by ticks. A spirochete is a slender, spirally undulating bacteria. Borrelia burgdorferi is present in both North America and Europe.
Until 2016, it was the exclusive known cause of Lyme Borreliosis Complex in North America. Recently, Borrelia mayonii, discovered in the midwestern United States, has also been identified as a causative agent for Lyme Borreliosis Complex. Early symptoms of Borrelia mayonii are fever, headaches, rash, and neck pain. Different from Borrelia burgdorferi, it may include nausea & vomiting, diffuse rashes, higher concentration of bacteria in blood.
The term “Lyme Borreliosis Complex” was coined by Dr. Jemsek to describe what is commonly referred to as Lyme Disease. If left untreated, Lyme Borreliosis Complex can progress to advanced stages, and people may develop neurological symptoms and heart problems and have an approximately 60 percent chance of developing Lyme arthritis. (Ticks and Lyme Disease, n.d.)
Findings from patient samples indicate that some strains of Lyme bacteria, called Borrelia burgdorferi, have a protective outer layer. This layer contains more of a specific protein that acts like armor, making it harder for the human immune system to fight against the bacteria. This protective mechanism increases the bacteria’s ability to spread throughout the body. (Jacob E. Lemieux et al., 2023)