By dentist Dr. Richard Mitchell
Lyme disease history begins thousands of years ago. The bacteria that cause Lyme disease have been present in the natural environment for a long, long time, but of course, nobody knows exactly when it first appeared in nature.
It was only relatively recently, in the last few decades, when people started turning up at their doctor or local hospital with a variety of weird symptoms that doctors and scientists began to notice something odd.
The disease began to make its first documented appearances in the 1970s, when some of the first cases were diagnosed in Lyme, Connecticut, USA. The symptoms that people were turning up with, (which are classic to Lyme disease today), included: joint pain, jaw bone pain, bulls-eye skin rashes, headaches, and fatigue.
For more information about the symptoms, take a look at the Symptoms of Lyme Disease page.
Because these symptoms were non-specific, and could actually represent a variety of diseases, these patients were not diagnosed with Lyme disease for years. It was VERY confusing for the doctors!
But persistence and medical research led to the classification of this specific group of symptoms as "Lyme." However, there was still little known about the actual cause of the disease.
Lyme disease is the most common disease transmitted to humans from deer ticks. The Ixodes tick carries the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi. When the tick carrying that bacteria bites a human, the bacteria is transmitted to the human.
The bacteria then replicates in the blood stream, and as a result Lyme disease occurs. Lyme disease history is very informative and helps both patients and physicians understand how this disease has evolved over time.
As the confusion about Lyme disease continued into the 1980s, Willy Burgdorfer, a scientist who studied ticks and the diseases they cause, stumbled upon the cause of Lyme disease.
In 1982, the spirochete bacteria that caused Lyme disease was identified, and because Willy Burgdorfer was responsible for the identification of this bacteria, it was named after him.
Once the relationship between the bacteria and the tick bite was established, doctors were able to create an antibiotic treatment therapy to address those patients who had been suffering with debilitating symptoms for years. Check out Lyme Disease Blood Test.
The history of Lyme disease continues on today, with the widespread transmission of this disease by bites from deer ticks. It is a serious infection that has now become an issue identified by the CDC as a signifiant problem.
Anyone can be affected - a recent case was British World Cup rugby player Matt Dawson, who famously made the winning pass to Jonny Wilkinson in the dying seconds of the World Cup Rugby final against Australia in 2003. Here is a link to the story in the British press;
Therefore, constant further research is necessary to develop prevention plans, and better diagnosis tools. Only with continued research can the continued spread of Lyme disease be subdued.
Lyme disease history shows us that we have to be careful in how we deal with Lyme disease. Recent cases in Scotland, U.K., have involved continuing fatigue and debilitation even AFTER the patient has received high-dose antibiotics, and no trace of the Lyme-causing bacteria can be detected in blood tests.
It is as if the bacteria responsible causes permanent nerve system damage if antibiotic treatment is delayed for too long. The bacteria can be eliminated, but it leaves neurological issues afterwards that may take years to fade.
Lyme disease history continues to evolve, and we continue to learn more about how to combat this disease.