“Is Lyme Disease contagious?” is a question asked by many folks who wonder why their family members all have the disease too.
As my step son who is getting his life back from Lyme says, “Lyme is like an octopus. It reaches out with its many arms to other members of the family.” Once one member of the family is diagnosed with the disease it is not uncommon to find that one or more other members have it as well. You may be surprised, as I was, to learn that tests results reveal several generations of one family testing positive for Lyme.
So, how does this happen that many members of a family have Lyme but their friends do not. How is this disease passed from one human being to another? This is an important question.
Lyme bacteria are passed from one person to another through the blood and at least one other body fluid. Although Lyme can be passed to a person via blood transfusions, the most commonly known ways people get Lyme include:
From a man to his sexual partners through semen
From a woman to her unborn children in utero
Dogs, horses, cats, rats, mice
All get sick with Lyme and pass it on to those who inhale the vapors of their infected feces. As you may imagine this method of transfer occurs most frequently among those who clean cat litter boxes and horse stables.
When presented with this information, people often wonder aloud:
“If a mother passes it onto her unborn children, is Lyme a genetic disorder.” The answer is, “No, Lyme is not a genetic disorder. The Lyme bacteria transfers from the mother to the child in the blood.”
“Is Lyme an autoimmune disorder?” Gone untreated Lyme can strip away the T-cells, the immune system’s front line of defense against unwanted foreign invaders. When those T-cells are low, the B-cells try to do the job of the T-cells. B-cells can end up attacking the body itself as they are not designed to deal with foreign invaders.
By way of brief example my husband spent some 30 years of his life in treatment and with surgeries associated with the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is referred to as an autoimmune disorder. The immune system seemingly turns on itself, and cause ulcerations of the digestive tract. Turns out he regained excellent health when he was finally diagnosed as having and received treatment for Lyme and Lyme related co-infections. As soon as those were treated and resolved all of the symptoms here-to-fore thought of as Crohn’s symptoms were gone.
The next question that is voiced is, “How do I protect my family.” Watch out for ticks wear light colored clothing when you are outside especially in heavily wooded areas. You will be able to see little ticks on light colored fabric and brush them off. Be especially watchful during the months of May and October when tick are being born and are active. Tick and mosquito repellants can be helpful as well.
Check with your veterinarian about Lyme symptoms in pets. And finally if you are symptomatic be sure and stay in close touch with a Lyme literate physician.