How to Boost Your Defenses Against The Growing Epidemic of Vector-Borne Infections
On May 1, the Centers for Disease Control announced that the number of infections transmitted by tick, flea and mosquito bites has more than tripled in the United States since 2004. Though Lyme Disease and Zika virus may be the most famous, at least nine new vector-borne infections have been identified in recent years, and ticks now commonly spread anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Powassan virus and Heartland virus. Tick4 have been found in 49 of 50 states, according to the CDC. They are spreading as the climate warms up and summers lengthen. A new book called Lyme, by investigative reporter Mary Beth Pfeiffer, suggests that Lyme disease is the first epidemic to emerge due to climate change. According to Pfeiffer, “Lyme clearly exploded in the 1970s—and has accelerated since—as the effects of a warming globe took hold. Ticks now live where they never could, and the one clear factor in their expansion is an increase in temperature. Ticks are climbing latitudes and mountains.”
In the U.S. lyme disease is more common than HIV, Hepatitis C or tuberculosis. By 2050, it is estimated that 12 percent of Americans may end up carrying borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen associated with Lyme disease. It is anybody’s guess how many of those cases will be missed or undertreated and become chronic.
Is the Definition of “Lyme Disease” Expanding?
“I thought I would write a couple of investigative stories,” writes Mary-Beth Pfeiffer on the website for her new book, “when I decided to look into what was a common disease where I lived. But, quite shockingly, I found a huge patient population that was clamoring for recognition and care.”
For many decades, the standard interpretation of Lyme disease was an acute infection that could be cured with 2-4 weeks of antibiotics, even in late stage “lyme arthritis.” These guidelines from the Infectious Disease Society of America are still considered standard of care by many physicians, even though they have been critiqued by lyme specialists. New evidence, however, is turning the tide. New research by an international team of researchers has found that the lyme bug can persist despite antibiotic therapy. Standard treatments can fail to eradicate lyme.
There is growing recognition of the prevalence of chronic lyme disease, its ability to persist in spite of short-term antibiotic treatment, and the frequent presence of co-infections with other tick-borne pathogens. Spirochetes have been found in the brain and heart after antibiotic treatment of monkeys. A 2018 study estimates that the cost of new lyme cases this year in the U.S. will be between $4.8 billion and $9.6 billion; for Europe, between 10.1 billion and 20.1 billion EUR. More doctors are coming to the view that lyme and other vector-borne infections can persist, leading to chronic symptoms ranging from arthritis to overwhelming fatigue, depression, pain, neurological symptoms and more.
Are New Tests Going to Revolutionize Diagnosis of Lyme Disease?
A new, cutting-edge multiplex “chip” test, called the Tickborne Disease SeroChip, has just been developed by famed virus hunter Ian Lipkin, PhD (who discovered West Nile virus and developed the test for it), and his team at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. “It promises to revolutionize the diagnosis of tick-borne disease,” the researchers explain, “by offering a single test to identify Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen responsible for Lyme disease, and seven other tick-borne pathogens.” As reported on the website of the Mailman School announcement, “The number of Americans diagnosed with tick-borne disease is steadily increasing as tick populations have expanded geographically,’ says Rafal Tokarz, PhD. “Each year, approximately 3 million clinical specimens are tested for TBDs in the U.S. Nonetheless, the true incidence of TBDs is likely greatly underestimated, as patients with presumed TBDs are rarely tested for the full range of tick-borne agents, and only a fraction of positive cases are properly reported,” adds Nischay Mishra, PhD.”
There have even been questions as to whether lyme can be transmitted from person to person, but so far, the evidence for direct human to human transmission is weak.
Lower Your Risk of Bug Bites And Enjoy Nature
‘Eew—a tick!’ might be your first response to seeing a tick crawling on your body, or worse yet, already embedded. But in fact, checking for ticks regularly is the best way to prevent transmission of tick-borne infections. Proof comes from opossums: they actually find and eat them 96 percent of the time when grooming themselves, and thus test negative for tick-borne infections. The CDC offers guidelines for a tick check here and healthy trails offers guidance here. During summer months, a tick check in the morning and evening (when brushing teeth, for example) can prevent many infections. Lyme disease, for instance, is generally thought to take 24-72 hours to transmit, while the rickettsial infections such as erlichia or anaplasma or rocky mountain spotted fever generally take at least 12 hours to transmit. Viruses like Powassan or Heartland virus, however, may transmit in as little as fifteen minutes.
Taking a shower immediately upon returning from a summer hike or even gardening in your yard can help wash off ticks. Throw your clothes in the dryer for five minutes first, as the dry heat will desiccate and kill ticks– something a sixteen-year-old high school student named Jacqueline Flynn discovered in an experiment, and which caught the attention of the CDC.
If you do find a tick, don’t panic. Make sure to have a few tick-twister devices on hand to safely and easily remove the tick. Save the tick in a small container that contains isopropyl alcohol (the alcohol will kill but fully preserve the tick). Or, put the tick in a sealed ziplock bag and store it in a freezer. Either way will both kill and preserve the tick so it is available if you develop symptoms later on, and you can send it for testing.
Natural Formulas to Ward off Ticks and Mosquitos
Though new evidence suggests that swatting at mosquitos trains them to avoid you, you may not want to be swatting away all day, and there are all-natural ways to avoid bug bites. Commercially available pesticides include DEET and permethrin, but botanically-based alternatives are less toxic. Essential oils such as rose-geranium have been proven to repel ticks and can be purchased online at Nature’s Gift. A recipe for home blending can be found here. Other blends to repel insects can be purchased online, such as Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent, which contains citriodiol, recommended by the CDC for warding off bugs; and YAYA Organics Tick Ban.
To keep ticks out of your yard, cedar mulch repels ticks and fleas. Tick bait boxes also help. Bait boxes developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are available through licensed pest-control professionals. They contain bait that attracts rodents, who often get tick attachments, as well as an insecticide on a wick that brushes the rodents’ back and kills ticks.
Phytonutrients and Natural Molecules Boost Your Defenses
Can you be cured of Lyme disease? That’s a question that has truly not been answered, since the spirochete may persist quietly and asymptomatically in some individuals, while triggering debilitating symptoms in others. Much remains to be unraveled by science. But boosting your natural defenses, supporting your detoxification ability, and keeping inflammation low are smart approaches whenever dealing with any infections.
Infection with the lyme spirochete, borrelia burgdorferi, has been shown to increase oxidative stress and lead to high concentrations of lipid peroxidation (oxidation of the critical lipids that, for instance, make up the cell membrane)., Infection with another common tick-borne pathogen, babesia, also appears to lower antioxidant status and increase lipid peroxidation. Maintaining adequate levels of antioxidants, especially glutathione—our most important endogenous antioxidant—may help support antioxidant activity in the body. Adequate glutathione levels are important for proper immune function, and researchshows the synthesis of DNA is enhanced by high levels of glutathione, and that white blood cells from healthy humans have optimal glutathione levels.
Chronic inflammation is common in any chronic infectious process. Inflammation can inhibit effective detoxification in the body. Inflammation leads to glutathione depletion, contributing to cellular damage, as toxins may no longer be efficiently transported out of the cells, and cells may not be sufficiently protected from oxidative stress.
Certain botanicals excel at lowering inflammation. Cannabidiol, a nonpsychoative constituent of hemp oil, has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties., Curcumin is another widely used botanical with anti-inflammatory properties.
Typical oral supplementation of glutathione and curcumin can have low bioavailability. Research has demonstrated more effective uptake with liposomal formulations. In addition, phospholipids inherent in liposomal formats, can provide the lipids that constitute cell membranes. Phosphatidylcholine, the primary lipid that composes the cell membrane, may provide a building block for membrane repair.
You May Also Be Interested In Glutathione: https://www.quicksilverscientific.com/blog/the-mother-of-all-antioxidants/
You May Also Be Interested in Cannibidiol and NanoEmulsified Hemp Oil: https://www.quicksilverscientific.com/blog/balance-your-body-and-brain-with-nanoemulsified-colorado-hemp-oil/
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