Lymepedia: Terms and Definitions

antibody: Any protein released by blood cells to destroy invading foreign organisms or substances. Antibody detection is the primary agent of detection used via the commonly available Lyme tests.

Babesia ( or Babesiosis): A tick-borne protozoan parasite. Those who have had their spleen removed, the elderly and those with a compromised immune system have a much higher risk of developing severe complications, however that does not mean that a healthy individual is not at risk. Cases of Babesia are on the rise including in areas where risk of infection was previously considered low. The most common species known to infect humans are B. microti and B. duncani (also known as WA-1). B. divergens is the predominant strain found in Europe. There are numerous other species of Babesia, many not recognized by current testing methods.

Bartonella/BLO (Bartonella-like organism): Bartonella henselae or cat scratch fever, is a widespread tick-borne illness. It is also transmitted by insect bites, playing with rodents, cat scratches as well as contact with both cat and dog saliva. It is a largely under-reported and is only beginning to be understood. There are numerous known species. Bartonella can become chronic and recurring, particularly in individuals with compromised immune systems. Recent research has shown that Bartonella henselae is the cause of a variety of different diseases.

biofilm: Any group of micro-organisms whose cells stick or adhere to each other on a surface, kind of like a ball of slime that protects the parasitic infection at the core. In regards to antibiotic resistance, the theory behind this is that biofilm grows slowly, and as a rule antibiotics attack faster-growing infections, allowing for the protection of pathogens even after antibiotics are administered.

Borrelia burgdorferi:` Bacterial spirochete and causative agent of Lyme disease. It is named after its discoverer, Willy Burgdorfer.

Borrelia miyamotoi: Newly emerging tick-borne parasite related to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, only recently found to cause disease in humans. Borrelia miyamotoi is also a bacterial spirochete. Symptoms tend to be similar to Lyme disease, but B. miyamotoi does not frequently produce a bull’s eye or skin rash, so other symptoms must be watched for. Currently, available Lyme tests do not detect the spirochete and there is no test widely available as of yet. Treatments prescribed for Lyme are thought to be effective against 
B. miyamotio. Human cases have been reported in Massachusetts and the disease is expected to spread. Efforts to stem the tide of a new Borrelia epidemic are in the works.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC): US agency charged with tracking and investigating public health trends. Currently denies the existence of chronic Lyme and downplays the severity of the Lyme epidemic.

CDC Positive: Term commonly used to describe when a Lyme test meets the diagnostic standards of the CDC. This indicates when there are at least two IgM antibody bands and three or more IgG antibody bands determined to be positive. Many patients do not get this result however, yet still have active Lyme disease that requires treatment.

Coinfection: Simultaneous infection by separate pathogens, such as an individual infected by both Lyme disease and Babesia. Complications with treatment of the primary infection can arise and can lead to more persistent and debilitating illness. The species of tick that carry Lyme disease are capable of carrying multiple infections, the three most common being: Babesia, Bartonella and Ehrlichiosis. Lab testing accuracy for coinfections varies widely. New infections and new strains of already known species are emerging all the time.

Ehrlichiosis/Anaplasmosis: Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne disease which can be caused by either of two different organisms. Human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME) is caused by Ehrlichia chaffeensis, which is known to be transmitted by the lone star tick, western black-legged tick and the American dog tick. Human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), previously known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE), is caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilia, which is known to be transmitted by at least three species of tick, these being the deer tick, the western black-legged tick and the American dog tick.

ELISA: A sensitive immunoassay that uses an enzyme linked to an antibody or antigen as a marker for the detection of a specific protein, especially an antigen or antibody. It is often used as a diagnostic test to determine exposure to a particular infectious agent, such as Lyme disease, by identifying antibodies present in a blood sample.

Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA): A medical association representing physicians, scientists and other healthcare professionals who specialize in infectious diseases. The IDSA recommends against long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease and officially denies the existence of chronic Lyme disease.

International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS): A nonprofit, international, multidisciplinary medical society, dedicated to the diagnosis and appropriate treatment of Lyme and its associated diseases. ILADS promotes understanding of Lyme and its associated diseases through research and education and strongly supports physicians and other health care professionals dedicated to advancing the standard of care for Lyme and its associated diseases.

Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction/Herxing: A temporary increase in symptoms after beginning treatment due to pathogenic die-off, also referred to as a “healing crisis”. Onset usually occurs within days or weeks of the start of treatment and may occur in cycles depending on stage of infection. Severity and length of a herx can vary greatly from patient to patient. Severity often lessens as infection load decreases. Detoxifying the body regularly can help manage herx symptoms. Co-infections are reported to cause herx reactions as well.

LLMD: Lyme-Literate Medical Doctor.

Lyme disease: A multi-stage systemic infectious disease most often spread by ticks, caused by the bacterial spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Effects can range from flu-like symptoms to debilitating chronic illness depending on when treatment is first administered. The disease is named after Lyme, Connecticut where cases of strange arthritic symptoms began to appear in the mid-1970s, however the bacteria species itself is millions of years old. It was discovered to be tick-borne by Dr. Allen Steere. The bacterial cause of Lyme disease was not discovered until 1981 by Willy Burgdorfer. There are many strains of Borrelia, with scientists estimating as many three hundred worldwide.

Mycoplasma: Numerous species have been identified in ticks. Smaller than bacteria, they invade human cells and disrupt the immune system, causing fatigue, musculoskeletal symptoms, and cognitive problems. Mycoplasmas can be treated with antibiotics.

Permethrin: A widely used chemical known to both repel and kill ticks when applied to clothing. Permethrin is not a skin-safe repellent. It also should only be applied to clothing under safe conditions (i.e. a well-ventilated area) and should be allowed to completely dry before clothing is worn.

Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC Line): A form of intravenous access that can be used for a prolonged period of time as part of a variety of medical treatments, including extended antibiotic therapy.

Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS): The idea that those still suffering symptoms of Lyme disease after a short course of antibiotics are being made ill by bacterial toxins (remnants of the Borrelia organism) or are simply mentally unstable and should seek psychiatric treatment. This theory is largely perpetrated by critics of the existence of chronic Lyme disease, with no definitive proof.

Powassan virus: Causes tick-borne encephalitis. Patients may be asymptomatic or suffer severe neurologic compromise and death. Common symptoms may include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. There are no commercial diagnostic tests for the disease, nor is there specific treatment. However, patients may need to be hospitalized to receive care to reduce swelling in the brain or for respiratory support. Can be transmitted to human host with minimal attachment time.

Rife (Rife Machine): A Rife machine can be summarized very simply as an electronic antibiotic. Specific frequencies are determined and targeted toward specific microorganisms, resulting in their devitalization. The germicidal frequencies are determined through a very painstaking process of laboratory research. Cultures of a particular microorganism are developed and used for testing frequencies until a frequency is found that is lethal to the organism. When the frequency is thoroughly confirmed "in vitro" on the cultures of microorganisms, it can then be tested on animals or humans that are infected with the same organism. Rife is heavily debated and controversial medical practice that is often shrouded in mystery due to the tension related to its usage. Many Lyme patients who have used rife as part of their treatment regimen have reported improvements.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever: Caused by bacteria called Rickettsia rickettsii that are transmitted by the bite of a tick. Patients develop high fever, rash, headache and bleeding problems. Thirty percent of untreated patients die. It is treatable with antibiotics, often doxycycline. 

spirochete: Any one of a group of spiral or corkscrew-shaped bacteria, some of which cause disease.

TBD: Tick-Borne Disease/s

Western Blot: An assay that detects specific proteins within a protein mixture by a multi-step process consisting of electrophoresis (electric charge) on a slab gel, transfer of the proteins on the gel to a membrane followed by identification of the specific proteins by antibody staining.