The History of Lyme Disease

Prior to the early 1970s, Lyme disease was unheard of in the United States

However, there had been cases of diseases with similar symptoms as far back as 1883. Alfred Buchwald discovered a similar disease in Breslau, Germany in 1883. Arvid Afzelius, a Swedish dermatologist, recognized a bull’s eye rash as early as 1909 and speculated that the condition was the result of an Ixodes tick bite.

By 1922, connections were made between erythemia migrans (EM) rash and neurologic problems. Rudolph Scrimenti, an American hunter, was the first case of a similar disease in the United States in 1970. In the city of Lyme, Connecticut and two small nearby towns, a group of children began experiencing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in the early 1970s. Before long, 39 children and 12 adults experienced the same symptoms and studied by researchers. At this time, the condition was called “Lyme arthritis.”

Bull's Eye Rash

Scientists did not initially understand how the illness could be localized in such a small area.

They began studying every possible cause they could come up with including whether or not specific germs in the water or air affected all the children. However, once they realized the children all lived close to and played in the woods near their homes, they turned their attention to an arachnid that is barely noticeable – the deer tick.

One of the first things researchers noticed is that the symptoms began during the summer months rather than in other times of the year. They also understood that summer is the height of tick season. Other things they researchers noticed as that several of the children reported having an unusual skin rash prior to developing the arthritis symptoms. Some remembered having been bitten and removed a tick before the rash appeared. By the time the mid-70s arrived, researchers understood how the disease started, the signs and symptoms. They called this new disease Lyme disease.

Unfortunately, as with all new diseases

it takes a while to understand them fully. Research continues until more is learned. In the case of Lyme disease, the researchers at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana identified the cause of Lyme disease in 1981. They also determined the deer tick (or black-legged tick) was the culprit because a spiral-shaped bacterium was transmitted during the tick bite. The bull’s eye rash associated with Lyme’s disease is the only symptom that differentiates the disease from other illnesses.

Cases of Lyme disease have been reported all across the United States, but they are reported based on the county of residence of the one infected rather than the county in which the infection was received. The areas of the country with the highest concentration of Lyme disease cases are the north east (Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island) and west of the Great Lakes, primarily in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The Lyme Disease Foundation was founded in 1988. Its goal is to promote awareness aboutLyme Disease SymptomsLyme disease. There are over 800 species of ticks around the word. Many of these species carry the spiral-shaped bacterium that causes Lyme disease. As the disease spreads and scientists learn more, the history of Lyme disease will continue to evolve.

There is a lot of controversy around Lyme Disease diagnosis. Many people feel they have been infected with Lyme disease even though they don’t meet the CDC sanctioned testing requirements. They may be close or have similar testing results but not be officially diagnosed with Lyme disease. Alternate treatment protocols have been developed outside of anti-biotic treatment – one popular method includes the Cowden protocol. If you feel you have been infected with Lyme disease its very important to do your research and carefully check your test results and consider the appropriate treatment plan for your case.

Lyme Disease 101

The Biology of Lyme Disease