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Undergrad researches chronic Lyme disease

s_davisAs a freshman with an interest in neurology, Sarah Davis started working with biomedical anthropologist Ralph Garruto, whose research group investigates the spread of Lyme disease across upstate New York and the Northeast. She continued as a sophomore, and by the end of the school year, with a fellowship from the Summer Scholars and Artists Program, Davis began her own research.

“I found a few preliminary studies that showed a correlation between chronic Lyme and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia,” says Davis, now a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience. “There was some strong evidence, but they were very basic studies, mainly done by one person about 10 years ago. I felt compelled to do more research, because I wanted to understand it better.”

Working with Garruto and doctoral candidate John Darcy, Davis surveyed people whose Lyme disease had progressed from the acute stage to become a chronic condition. In the 200 surveys that have come back so far, she has seen links by sex, with women outnumbering men by about 10 percent, and between chronic Lyme and people with family histories of neurodegenerative disorders.

“There are some definite trends with symptoms of pre-neurodegenerative disease, and with a bias toward females, which is consistent with the literature,” says Davis, who expects to receive another hundred responses before analyzing the results later this semester. “I plan to look at both, and though it’s not our main focus, we’re hoping to find information that could tell us why females are more likely to get chronic Lyme than males.”

In the rest of her work on Garruto’s team, Davis talks with survey participants, maps the tick population around campus and assesses whether there are specific behaviors that increase the risk of being bitten by ticks. “Sarah is a researcher with a lot of strengths,” says Garruto, a research professor of biomedical anthropology. “She’s bright, dedicated and inquisitive, with significant experience working in the field of neurology. That’s been the central theme of her academic training and her clinical experience. Though no one can really predict at this stage, I expect Sarah to wind up in the field of neurology.”

Davis, who grew up on a farm in Greenville, N.Y., and whose mother has recovered from acute Lyme disease, estimates that she has been bitten by ticks 20 to 30 times. But that isn’t going to stop her from trying to find out more about the disease.

“I really enjoy doing this research,” she says.  “It’s different from sitting in a classroom, because I’m able to go out on my own, listen to people tell their stories and discover things through my own process.”

14 Responses to “Undergrad researches chronic Lyme disease”

  1. Jodie Donnelly says:

    Thank you Sarah, for going down the logical path in regards to the known cause of most of these neurodegenerative conditions which are usually referred to as having an “unknown cause”, when the cause is known and has been for a long time.

    Many now, will not waste their time and health on anybody other than a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD).

    I am not going to elaborate on the obvious reasons why so many within the medical fraternity, etc, deny, ignore or just downright obstruct any beneficial research or information on these wide spread stealth infections/Vector-borne diseases coming to fruition and/or being disseminated, but as you know, this information is available for those who genuinely want to get to the cause and core of their patients suffering.

    In time, those who are not literate in the area of Vector-borne disease/Borrelia and co-infections, will become redundant, word is spreading quickly, as so many are infected now and they have been horrendously maltreated and misdiagnosed and are forced to research, diagnose and treat themselves and/or their children, those who are lucky enough to discover the truth, turn to an LLMD and usually get major beneficial outcomes in their health for the first time in years/decades of progressively getting worse and after continually being diagnosed with further ongoing “unknown caused” conditions.

    But in the meantime (the dark side) the denialist’s of the true cause are doing everything they can in an attempt to discredit LLMDs, leaders in medicine, true healers, those versed in Vector-borne disease, just as mainstream medicine have done to so many alternative true healers all along.

    Anyone who threatens their rein is in the line of fire, no matter how many are unnecessarily suffering and dying of these wide spread infections.

    Sarah, there are so many, including children, suffering horrendous painful, debilitating conditions caused by these Infections being allowed to spread and Spirochetes being allowed to multiply within sufferers, that otherwise could have been avoided with correct and adequate treatment in the early stages.

    Only those who are conscientious, who genuinely put the patients well being before themselves and their earnings, those with their head and heart in the right place, like yourself, can call themselves healers and can hold their head high with pride in saying so.

    All the very best to you Sarah, don’t let the dark side bring you down.

    If you are not already, become a member or look into (ILADS) International Lyme and Associated Disease Society for the most accurate information, these are the true experts/ healers and they and their members will be remembered as the saviours of this planet.

    http://www.ilads.org/

    Also a tip, if you ask your patients either in the medical history forms they will fill out before seeing you and/or verbally, whether they remember an experience with birds just prior to the onset of Lyme symptoms, such as a nesting at their home or workplace, etc, perhaps getting bitten in an infested mattress, below these nestings, or rescuing a wild or sick bird, their cat bringing a bird into the house, etc, etc.

    You will be inundated with yes answers, not always immediately, because of outdated and misinformation/myths that are continually being disseminated about how Lyme is contracted, most do not link something so common to their progressively worsening health, but after your patient has had a bit of time to reflect on this and becomes aware of the link, most if not all, who do not remember a specific tick bite, will recall an incident, usually unpleasant with birds, just prior to becoming sick.

    This will enable you to diagnose and treat a broader range of Lyme sufferers, rather than the questions that are usually asked, such as, have you been in the vicinity of Deer or seen a blood engorged tick attached to you for days.

    As you are probably aware, most don’t remember a tick bite and/or a rash, or seeing a Deer, this is because they more than likely got it from birds, this explains why it is so wide spread and easy to catch now.

    Ruling out Lyme for those who answer no to the questions about Deer and ticks only narrows down the true extent of this plague and misses so many who are suffering Lyme.

    Due to Deer culling, deforestation, denial, changes in the environment, mismanagement of the disease, etc , ground foraging birds have become competent reservoirs and the ultimate hosts of Borrelia and co-infections and are the most efficient, wide spread carriers of not only these infections but a multitude of the disease Vectors, such as lice, mites, fleas and all stages of ticks.

    We now live amongst minefields of microscopic pathogen filled syringes, especially when we are around colonies and/or nestings of birds.

    Once the paramount role birds play in the spread of Borrelia and co-infections, becomes common knowledge, so much suffering and so many infections and chronic illness will be avoided, as people will understand that Lyme is not rare, hard to catch, easy to treat or confined to bush walkers, enabling them to educate themselves on how to minimise the risk for them and their family contracting these infections and/or of letting it become so systemic that it causes them chronic illness. J

  2. GaryYantis says:

    Please send me an e-mail address and I will send you very helpful mostly unknown information on preventing or (if you catch it) significantly reduce the horrific effects of this quickly spreading pandemic. Three years ago in the final stages of Lyme I lay in bed waiting to die. Today I have regained 99% of my health and Lyme is in remission (not cured). I do NOT share e-mail addresses nor am I selling anything. I just wish to help others with the relief I discovered. gyantis@gmail.com
    Gary Yantis

  3. Richard Snow says:

    As a person living in Greenville, diagnosed with early onset alzheimer’s in 2007 but seemingly fully recovered, I’d love to take part in this survey.

  4. melissa bucuk says:

    My father was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy, and with alzheimer’s…. It took several years for me to get his bloodwork sent to Igenex. (No-one believed it could be Lyme except for me.) The lab verified Lyme, but by then my dad was too ill to travel to any Lyme-literate physician. He died a few months later, just 3 weeks after my mother, his caretaker, died — she had been so busy taking care of my dad that she could not address her own health issues adequately. This was in 2009, and my parents lived in central Pennsylvania. And to think this could happen in a Lyme endemic area!

  5. Doreen Dupuis DePalo says:

    I would also like to take part in the study. I was dx in 2008, but had been sick for years. I feel like I’ve had todo all my own research also, and can’t work due to all of the devastating symptoms. My email is missdoreenie@yahoo.com. Thank you!

  6. Warren says:

    Thank you Sarah for this important work. I too have the same questions. I will be following your work with great anticapation. I applaud your intuitiveness that if you want fix a problem you first have to know what the problem is. What you are doing is not esoteric or unfounded. This is basic Science of which research used to be about. Your research is the kind of research that could uncover important data to help lead other researches to the underlining factors and then answers to your question. You are continuing the work of the first person you spoke of and building on it. This is far to big a question from most people to wrap their head around. Let alone understand where to start to get to the real answer.

    I am a Chronic Lyme Sufferer and have also wondered about these and other diseases which at times I share some of their symtoms. Please excuse my spelling and grammer, Lyme has cause many more problem than pain for me. Getting my thoughts from brain to paper is a daughting task.

    I also I feel there are links to many more “Unknown caused diseases” like MS, ALS, Fibermialgia, Lupis, many nerological problems like depression, bipolar, and a host of others beyond your list.

    Had the people studing Lyme disease taken your systematic and unbiased approach, things might have been much different for Lyme sufferes and the other “so-called unknown caused diseases ” as well.

    Best Regards, Warren

  7. Bea Seibert says:

    Sarah, Please contact me. My husband died on 10/9/12 from complications I believe were due to chronic babesiosis. Tests are still ongoing to deteremine exact species of the blood borne protozoan — but I believe his case meets the CDC criteria for a confirmed case of babesia. He had ARDS (lung failure) and a splenic infarction (blood clot in the spleen). His primary symptoms during his 12 year illness were a Parkinsonian tremor, myoclonus, severe dystonia, and other movement disorder symptoms that did not respond to Parkinson’s meds, but responded to babesia treatment (went away after 8 or 9 years and stayed gone for about 1 1/2 years until the 2nd new tickbite. His other severe symptoms included seizure like episodes that did not respond to seizure meds, but went away after bartonella treatment (when his bloodsmears no longer showed coccobacilli), but these symptoms also returned after the 2nd new tickbite. I can share lots of resources with you and would like to discuss my husband’s case in further detail. Bea Seibert — seibertneurolyme (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. Bea Seibert says:

    Wow — integrative neurology. I didn’t even know there was such a degree.

    There is a desperate need for LLMD neurologists. In fact there are only half a dozen at most in the entire U.S. and even those really mostly specialize in lyme and know little about the coinfections. As you know from your research of the medical literature there are very few medical journal articles describing patients with even 2 tickborne infections and few if any describing patients with 3 or more tickborne infections — but these are the patients with the most severe neurological symptoms that the average neurologist can’t relate to and they frequently end up being sent to psychiatrists instead of LLMD’s.

    Good luck with your future studies.

  9. Greg T. says:

    keep doing what you’re doing. People with lyme need you. We are warriors… but tired of fighting.

  10. Dawn Hass says:

    I would like to participate in a study as well. I am in the CHRONIC / LATE LYME DISEASE STAGE and I need someone to help me. All I’ve run into is speculation, no one to help cure or help put into remission.

    I’m 53 years old and can’t do stairs. In the last 8 months I’ve gone from playing volleyball twice a week, being active to not being able to participate. I used to walk at a fast pace, now I hobble (not on purpose) down the hallway. I’m very unsteady on my feet and desperately scared of falling. My arms and legs are weak and very painful, I’m afraid I couldn’t get up. Some days I have high inflammation days very painful to walk, sit or do anything, some days are tolerable. NIGHT TIME IS UNBEARABLY PAINFUL, I’m in excrusating pain. it feels like pain in my bones, like my bones are breaking. I have muscular pain, nerve pain and I think my tendons are affected. I’ve been on antibiotics for more than 8 weeks on doxy and 6 weeks on minocycline with no changes. my thyroid and adrenal glands have been affected. I now have something called Polymyalgia Rheumatica (automimune disease) I’ve tried chinese herbs from a lyme doctor, i’ve taken them for more than 8 weeks with no results. I’m taking vicodin and muscle relaxers just to take the edge off to sleep. IN NO WAY, do these stop the pain…but, make it tolerable for sleeping a couple hours at a time. I’ve gone to an ENDOCRINLOGIST who said she knows nothing about LYME . I’ve tried PHOTON THERAPY, BIOFEEDBACK with no change. I’ve found more people willing to say they can help if I pay them…then find out no change afterwards. I find it interesting that in 2013…no one in the medical field has a way to fix this.

  11. Dawn Hass says:

    I also believe there is a link between long time LYME SUFFERS dying from Cancer. Brian, Liver etc… This needs to be studied.

  12. Margaret says:

    I would love to be part of the study. I have Hasimotos and celiacs, which my doctor attributes to my previously undiagnosed chronic Lyme disease,

  13. Jennifer says:

    GO SARAH!!!

    We need more researchers like you! Please investigate these links thoroughly, because we know that CDC and Infectious Disease Society of America (and of course the morally bankrupt insurance companies) are on the wrong side of history here. But we need hard science to back us up.

    I hope you take all the work of the brilliant researchers who have been waging this war from behind their microscopes (Alan McDonald – we love you!) and fight alongside all the people with Lyme, Alzheimers, ALS, Parkinsons, MS, Fibromyalgia and other debilitating conditions.

    We are all in this together, and you have our support, love and gratitude.

  14. Dolores Claesson says:

    Thanks Sarah for taking an interest in lyme disease. 108 bacteria were found in ticks in Italy and there are a myriad of viruses, protozoans and other parasites that are part and parcel of lyme. Mostly ignored by people studying lyme. Many of these co infecting agents can lead to other problems. For instance, rickettsias are postulated to be one of three causes of Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia. We have seen lyme patients segue into ALS, Parkinsons and dementia and many cancers. It appears that the H. pylori that so many lyme patients have segues into pancreatic cancer if not eradicated. MGUS is within lyme and is a marker for Multiple Myeloma. All kinds of lymphomas are also connected to lyme. and may be from the reactivation of the herpes viruses that rear their ugly heads unable to be contained by the over worked immune system. Lyme patients have low IgA and IgG subclasses and build no antibodies to 14 serotypes of strep pneumonia. They might be dubbed NON HIV AIDS patients and there are Asians showing up with NON HIV AIDS as well. We need for the research community to come together to understand this severe and complicated set of pathogens that comprise lyme disease.

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