Lyme Disease Vector
Name: Carol C.
I was recently told by a neuromuscular therapist (who has many
patients suffering from Lyme Disease) that the most recent
information he has received states that Lyme Disease can be
spread by contact with an infected person. He said that Lyme
is caused by a (sounded like) spiruite (something that started
with spir ).
He said that made perfect sense because this same
spir... entity is the same as the cause of syphillis - which,
of course, is spread by human contact. Is this correct? Is this a type of
bacterium? What is the correct spelling? Where
might I find more information on these spir... characters?
I am not an expert in this area, so I hesitate to give an answer; however, I
searched the terms: "Lyme disease transmission" on the search engine
www.google.com and found many "hits" that seem to discuss this issue in
your neuromuscular therapist may be an expert in his
field but he clearly has got a few wrong ideas about
the pathogens that cause Lymes disease and syphilis.
True, both are Spirochetes, but they are certainly not
identical (as identical as, say a cow and a sheep,
Lymes disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi.
Syphilis is caused by Treponema pallidum. Both have a
spiral bacterial body, hence their name spirochetes.
But whereas T. pallidum can only infect humans, and is
spread by sexual activity, B. burgdorferi needs a tick
as a vector to spread. There are more pathogens that
have developed a life cycle in which an insect is
required to complete the infection cycle, and in some
instances this system has been so much refined, that
without the vector the pathogen can not reinfect a
So, as far as the data go that I have available, B.
burgdorferi requires the tick as a vector for spread.
Lyme disease is NOT a sexually transmitted disease.
And Treponema is NOT identical to Borrelia.
More info is available in the Virtual Museum of
Bacteria, under www.bacteriamuseum.org where you can
find files in the species cabinet on both these
organisms, and many more.
Dr. Trudy Wassenaar
Curator of the Virtual Museum of Bacteria
The bacteria that causes Lyme Disease is a spirillum (spiral shaped)
bacteria. I have never heard of Lyme being spread by an infected person, but
there may be new information that I am not aware of. The reason syphillis
can be spread sexually is that the bacteria is found in open sores on the
genitals of the infected person. When another person comes in contact with
the open sore, the bacteria can be passed to that person. As far as I know,
there are no open lesions in Lyme Disease. It is also not spread through the
air from person to person as far as I know.
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Update: June 2012