Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Topics with information and discussion about published studies related to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
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Re: Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Post by Martian » Sat 1 Feb 2014 1:01

It seems the number "460" is out of place, not part of the title but a program number or something.

See: ... or_web.xls (MS Excel file)

Still, there is the mystery of the three groups.

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Re: Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Post by LHCTom » Sat 1 Feb 2014 20:16

This is not areal scientific study. It was not peer reviewed in any way and seems more like a home brew experiment. It was released as a Press release and then an abstract and as yet the actual paper appears unavailable even to purchase. This appears to be an intentional effort to create fear and will almost certainly damage relationships without any real evidence Lyme can be sexually contracted. I for one feel this kind of inflammatory commenting and behavior plus incomplete speculative conclusions is harmful to Lyme patients. When a half baked study comes out drawing conclusions that cannot be shown, its just wrong. I don't believe these people are doing the Lyme community a service by doing inadequate and incomplete testing and drawing unprovable conclusions. This just leads to the mainstream scientists devaluing what is coming out of the "Lyme Community" research.

I believe the probability that Lyme could be sexually contracted based on my understanding of the biology and whole transmission path is quite low. Has it ever happened? Probably, but airplanes occasionally crash but millions of people fly daily. Risk is based on probability. If the probability of contracting Lyme is 1 in a million, then its in the same category of risk as an airplane crash. Its well known that Syphilis is contracted sexually. There are some very large differences in the biology and the mechanisms. Its well known by researchers for 20 years that the Lyme spirochete divides very slowly. Its also well known it can take thousands of spirochetes to needle inoculate a test animal. Small numbers of spirochetes are unable to evade the innate immune response except by overwhelming with large numbers. Syphilis produces sores on the genitals that shed thousands to millions of spirochetes during sex. The Syphilis spirochetes in the vagina during sex are in the millions.

The Syphilis spirochete has necessarily developed a tolerance to the hostile vaginal environment. It has evolved based on a direct host to host transmission rather than a zoonotic transmission. The Syphilis spirochete is an expert at host to host sexual transmission while the Borrelia is zoonotic having adapted to tick guts and bite inoculation of thousands of spirochetes directly and deeply into host tissue. Its not trivial for a spirochete that cannot live outside very specific environments long to survive the journey and then evade the innate immune system. They can't sneak in one or two.. They need a million organism army to survive, cross the vaginal environment, penetrate the vaginal wall and tissue and evade the innate immune system.

If Syphilis hadn't, it would died out millions of years ago. The Borrelia spirochete is known to be difficult to cultivate, divides slow, and even in a worst case Spirochemia acute phase, only shows up in semen or vaginal secretions ( and possibly elsewhere) in low numbers. The Borrelia spirochete has never evolved and developed a tolerance for the complex sexual transmission path and in low numbers almost certainly cannot survive the vaginal environment. For these few spirochetes to attach and pass through the vaginal wall or more rugged penile skin in sufficient numbers to survive the innate immune system response would be a very low probability. Even during the acute Spirochemia phase. Once the adaptive immune system emerges and antibiotic treatment, the spirochetes live in low numbers constantly being hunted. Other morphological forms almost certainly cannot survive transmission having no mechanisms for attachment and tissue penetration. Only the small numbers if present at all must make the journey like the Donner Party, almost certainly succumbing to the hostile journey.

So even if real spirochetes were found in some semen or vaginal secretions, the need for thousands or millions as with most sexually transmitted bacterial diseases would be necessary to successfully complete the journey through the vaginal wall or penile skin. This study only says they found cultivable spirochetes in half the semen and all the vaginal secretions in 3 people. They don't say if this was acute during Spirochemia or chronic where the number of spirochetes is quite low and typically non-cultivable. Since the authors overlap with the ALS culture study, we have no idea if the same contamination might have occurred using the same culture from the same lab. The semen and vaginal secretions were not directly tested using PCR or nested PCR to avoid the much higher risk of contamination in the culturing process. They exposed the semen and vaginal secretions to a contamination risky culture process. The results were not sequenced to verify the actual exact lineage of the Borrelia and therefor were not deposited into NCBI for review. This sloppy work at best and with inappropriate conclusions.

Methods Used: Three North American patients with a history of Lyme disease, one male and two female, were selected for the study after informed consent was obtained. Serological testing for B. burgdorferi was performed on all three subjects. Blood and semen or vaginal secretions were used to inoculate BSK-H medium for Borrelia culture. Motile spirochetes were detected in cultures by light and/or darkfield microscopy, and cultured spirochete concentrates were subjected to Dieterle silver staining, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and anti-B. burgdorferi immunohistochemical staining for further characterization. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing was performed by two independent laboratories for specific identification of the cultured isolates. Positive and negative controls for immunohistochemical staining and PCR were performed in all experiments.
Whey didn't they do direct nested PCR on the semen/secretions? Then sequence. The sensitivity of the nested PCR can be improved by running the test N times which ups the odds N times. On 3 samples that should not be difficult. They say they cultured both blood and secretions but fail to mention the outcome of each cultured source. This is another contamination risk. Were they successful with blood culturing and contaminated the semen/secretions? Were they contaminated by the original ALS ATCC test strains? Without sequencing, there is no way to know for sure if the source was contaminated or if the couple really had the same exact individual organism. And if the couple lived together and were exposed together, how do they know they both didn't get bit by the same strain. One couple hardly constitutes a scientific study.
Summary of Results: Serum antibodies to B. burgdorferi were detected in all three patients. Motile spirochetes were observed in culture fluid inoculated with blood and genital secretions from the three subjects. Morphological features of spirochetes were confirmed by Dieterle staining, SEM and immunohistochemical staining of culture concentrates. PCR testing confirmed that the spirochetes isolated from blood and genital secretions were strains of B. burgdorferi, and PCR subtyping indicated that the strains were B. burgdorferi sensu stricto.

And what do they mean by PCR subtyping? Why not sequence? Did they learn their lesson with the earlier paper. Showing too much detail to the outside world is risky. You can be checked. So which subtype/strain did they find? Was it one of the ATCC strains? Why say the strain was "B. burgdorferi sensu stricto". That actually encompasses B garinii as opposed to saying it was just Borrelia burgdorferi. Did the find the ATCC B Garinii. Whoever wrote this should have written it more carefully.
Conclusions: The culture of viable B. burgdorferi in genital secretions suggests that Lyme disease could be transmitted by intimate contact from person to person.
SUGGESTS and COULD is both quite vague yet implies a far to strong interpretation of the the evidence and study quality. It only means their MIGHT be spirochetes halfway to full transmission. The easy part. And that's only in 3 cases.

“Our findings will change the way Lyme disease is viewed by doctors and patients,” said Marianne Middelveen, lead author of the study presented in Carmel. “It explains why the disease is more common than one would think if only ticks were involved in transmission.”
If it does, they should be ashamed for not doing a proper study before scaring tens of thousands of Lyme couples. I think most already understand there is some small risk and deal with it appropriately for the couple.

As expected, all of the control subjects tested negative for Borrelia burgdorferi in semen samples or vaginal secretions. In contrast, all women with Lyme disease tested positive for Borrelia burgdorferi in vaginal secretions, while about half of the men with Lyme disease tested positive for the Lyme spirochete in semen samples. Furthermore, one of the heterosexual couples with Lyme disease showed identical strains of the Lyme spirochete in their genital secretions.“The presence of the Lyme spirochete in genital secretions and identical strains in married couples strongly suggests that sexual transmission of the disease occurs,” said Dr. Mayne.
Now they upgrade "SUGGESTS" to "strongly suggests that sexual transmission of the disease occurs". Without direct sequencing, its no way to know if they were the same strain. People who live in an area often get bit and get the same strain. So even if they were the same individual organism and strain by sequencing, it could be that's the strain living in their yard or where they hike. There are so many holes here, its shocking.

"strongly suggests that sexual transmission of the disease occurs" What if they were bitten in the same yard or hiking trails. This is called Hyperbole.

Dr. Stricker pointed to the unknown risks of contracting Lyme disease raised by the study.
“There is always some risk of getting Lyme disease from a tickbite in the woods,” he said. “But there may be a bigger risk of getting Lyme disease in the bedroom.”
A bigger risk in bed. Now Stricker has gone too far. This is upgrading Hyperbole to Grandiosity at its worst. Its just sad the Lyme community cannot get more $ in NIH funding to sort out these important questions. This kind of pseudo-science is shameful.
The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism.

Attributed to William Osler, 1902

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Re: Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Post by duncan » Sat 1 Feb 2014 20:58

I cannot speak to the science as well as others. But I know releases. I know marketing. Some statements and observations in the abstract in my opinion seemed written for effect, rather than with a disinterested, dispassionate voice normally reserved for scientific publications or announcements.

I am the first to take the IDSA to task when I think it indulges in over-reach or hyperbole, or is speaking to veiled interests.

I personally think the same standard should be applied to ILADS.

For me, it should never be about the association or organization, or indulge in partisan interpretations. It must ALWAYS be about the patients. As such, credibility must be beyond repproach, regardless of whether the source of findings is IDSA or ILADS.

In my opinion, neither group has much to crow about.

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Re: Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Post by Margherita » Sun 2 Feb 2014 0:20

For me, it should never be about the association or organization, or indulge in partisan interpretations. It must ALWAYS be about the patients. As such, credibility must be beyond repproach, regardless of whether the source of findings is IDSA or ILADS.
So true!

The concern about sexual transmission is playing on the mind of many Lymepatients for quite some time. So why not have it further investigated if only to exclude it (but rather using the nested PCR method then). I really hope it will turn out to be a false alarm.

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Re: Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Post by ChuckG » Sun 2 Feb 2014 2:36

Took a search through my bookmarks from a few years ago to find this:
Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2002 Spring;2(1):3-9.
Investigations on the mode and dynamics of transmission and infectivity of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia afzelii in Ixodes ricinus ticks.
Crippa M, Rais O, Gern L.
Author information

Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (sl), the agent of Lyme disease, is transmitted to the host during the blood meal of Ixodes ticks. In most unfed ticks, spirochetes are present in the midgut and migrate during blood feeding to the salivary glands, from which they are transmitted to the host via saliva. In the present study, the efficiency of Ixodes ricinus ticks to transmit B. afzelii and B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (ss) and their infectivity for mice were examined in relation to the duration of the blood meal. In addition, we investigated whether these two Borrelia species can penetrate intact skin. Three modes of infection of mice were studied: tick-bite infection, inoculation of tick homogenates, and transcutaneous infection by topical application of tick homogenates on mouse skin. Transmission of B. burgdorferi sl from I. ricinus nymphs to mouse increased with duration of tick attachment. B. afzelii-infected ticks start to transmit infection earlier (< or = 48 h) than B. burgdorferi ss-infected ticks. As previously shown for B. burgdorferi ss in Ixodes scapularis, B. burgdorferi ss and B. afzelii in unfed I. ricinus were noninfectious for mice when tick homogenates were inoculated. However, the inoculation of homogenates of ticks fed for 24 h readily produced infection in mice. Therefore, B. burgdorferi ss and B. afzelii spirochetes are potentially infectious in the tick before natural transmission can occur. None of the mice (n = 33) became infected by transcutaneous transmission when tick homogenates were applied on mouse skin, showing that B. burgdorferi ss and B. afzelii are unable to penetrate intact skin, in contrast to relapsing fever spirochetes. This study also shows that B. afzelii is transmitted by I. ricinus to the host earlier than B. burgdorferi ss and that I. ricinus seems to be a more efficient vector of B. afzelii than B. burgdorferi ss.

PMID: 12656125 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
It is recognized that the relevant human structures are not mouse skin.

The contributions of LHCTom on this site are greatly appreciated.

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Re: Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Post by RobertF » Sun 2 Feb 2014 14:42

It is recognized that the relevant human structures are not mouse skin.
Human mucous membrane isnot equal to mice skin.

When referring to studies as " evidence" it might be logic to ask oneself, is this study reliable and applicable?

Does this study prove that human sexual transmision can be excluded???? Not at all!!

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Re: Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Post by dlf » Sat 8 Feb 2014 17:11

This doesn't provide much more information, but some. According to Marianne Middelveen there were 9 patients, culturing was involved and some "molecular method" of determining that the spirochetes shown were BB. The publication embargo is not mentioned. This makes me wonder whether publication is being postponed by the authors or by others.

Flashpoints, for February 4, 2014 - 5:00pm

Listen to KPFA Flashpoints radio host, Dennis Bernstein, interview Canadian microbiologist Marianne Middelveen, and Dr. Ray Stricker discuss their research indicating Lyme Disease may be a sexually transmitted disease, not unlike it’s cousin, syphilis, another spirochaetal bacteria. After their interview, Andy Abrahams Wilson speaks about the creation of his documentary ‘Under Our Skin’.

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Re: Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Post by Martian » Wed 19 Feb 2014 17:04

Source: ... -STD-.html
Friday, February 14, 2014

Is Lyme Disease an STD?

A recent study suggests that Lyme disease might be sexually transmitted. Just how seriously should you take the findings?

If last month’s abstract claiming Lyme disease could be sexually transmitted has you panicking—or feeling vindicated—don’t. Though there’s plenty of controversy around the disease and its treatment, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the possibility of sexual transmission and of this abstract in particular.

Published in the January issue of The Journal of Investigative Medicine, the abstract reported that vaginal secretions of all women in the study with Lyme disease tested positive for the bacterium that causes the disease, while the semen of about half of the men with Lyme disease tested positive. A married couple in the study also had identical strains of the disease in their secretions.

The authors claimed that this data suggests the disease could in fact be sexually transmitted.

But there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical about the science, according to Paul Lantos, a faculty member at Duke University Hospital in pediatric infectious diseases, and the lead author of a panel that reviewed the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s Lyme disease treatment guidelines.

“A lot of basic things we would expect to see in a sexually transmitted disease have not been observed,” he says. “Maybe it really is retrievable from semen and vaginal secretions. I don’t have a problem with that idea. The question is can you actually acquire if you come into contact with the organism in that form?”

If the disease could be transmitted sexually, Lantos says, there should be a huge occurrence among those most likely to contract STDs—adolescents and young adults. Instead, Lyme disease is most common among children and the middle aged.

The areas where the disease occurs should also have more overlap with other STDs like herpes and gonorrhea. But instead of a high occurrence in urban centers and in the South, Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast and rural areas.

STDs like HIV are also pretty easy to trace back to an infected partner. “Why don’t we see couples passing it to one another,” he says. “Why don’t we see a clear pattern where sexual partners are diagnosed with Lyme disease?”

What’s more, the abstract itself is just that—an abstract. It hasn’t been peer-reviewed, and without information about how many patients were involved, who they are, and whether they had been treated for the disease, it’s hard to take a critical look.

By: Elise Craig
Note: it seems that the article originally had an extra paragraph, which is later removed. It still shows up in Google's cached version of the page. This is the removed paragraph:
“This study is coming from authors who are well known to express extreme views about Lyme disease, “ Lantos says. “I would look at it skeptically until it is peer reviewed.”

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Re: Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Post by Pandora » Thu 20 Feb 2014 1:02

I gues RR don't get out much....If he did he would know over 90% of the pops are already infected with the real cause of AIDS and 1 in 29 babies are being born severely multiply infected when they could have all been PREVENTED.
While Prof. Montagnier has an ethical obligation to NOT cause panic. I have no such obligations. IMO it is well over 90% of the pops infected. Its when you add to the mix you get your syndromes.

Multiple Chronic infections found at 3:08 using molecular studies instead of ANTIBODIES in the real seronegative AIDS they don't make.....WE cannot tolerate anymore criminally insane if you intend to win the war!!!

Because Henrietta Lacks Cancers were also seronegative for Syphilis even though Harvard KNEW she was Chronically infected.

The CDC/NIH would like for you to forget AIDS was originally also seronegative with the HepB test finding 88% of HIV cases. So they developed Tiered testing singleing out certain molecules to RULE OUT the real cause of AIDS antigenic variation of Spirochetal Disease. Just like they did using OSP's for vaccines and then ruling criminal guidelines that NEVER fit the disease.

The Question no one seems to be asking is HOW do we STOP Our Age of Syndromes?

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Re: Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests

Post by Camp Other » Tue 11 Mar 2014 0:31

Related, just posted part one of a series of blog posts I am doing on sexual/venereal and contact transmission studies on Lyme disease: ... -lyme.html

More to follow soon...

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