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Why some people recover from Lyme disease, while others experience months, years or even decades of chronic symptoms has long puzzled doctors. New research offers some clues to an immune system marker in the blood that is elevated among people with lingering Lyme disease symptoms, even after they’d received antibiotics.

In the new study, published on May 9 in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, researchers found an immune system marker in the blood called interferon-alpha was elevated among people who had been treated for Lyme disease but had lingering symptoms.

Interferon-alpha is one of a handful of key signaling proteins the body makes to tell immune cells to fight off bacteria or viruses. If the blood levels are too high, the immune system can overact, causing pain, swelling and fatigue — symptoms often seen with Lyme disease.

In patients with high levels of interferon-alpha, the immune response to the Lyme bacteria may cause chronic inflammation, even once the infection is gone, said Klemen Strle, an assistant research professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University and an author of the new study.

“We think this is a possible driver of persistent symptoms,” Strle said. And since a number of drugs are already approved to lower interferon-alpha, he suggested the research could mean a possible treatment option for lingering Lyme symptoms.

The study was small, including 79 people diagnosed with Lyme disease, and found only a link between the higher interferon-alpha levels and the persistent Lyme disease symptoms, not that the immune marker was itself causing the lasting symptoms. A larger clinical trial would be needed to affirm the connection.

Male and female adult blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis, on a sesame seed bun to demonstrate relative size.
Male and female adult black-legged ticks, Ixodes scapularis, on a sesame seed bun to show their relative size.CDC

Anywhere from 30,000 up to 500,000 people develop Lyme disease from a tick bite each year, according to the CDC. For most, the infection is mild and easily treated with antibiotics. About 10% experience symptoms like fatigue and brain fog along with muscle, joint and nerve pain that persists even after treatment.

The new findings represent a significant shift in understanding why some people infected with Lyme suffer chronic symptoms. Previously, some researchers believed that a specific strain of the spiral-shaped Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme might be a cause. Others wondered whether undetectable low levels of infection lingered in the body after treatment. The new research suggests that the way the body reacts to the bacteria — not the bug itself — could result in long-lasting symptoms.

It’s still unclear why some people have elevated interferon-alpha, but Strle said he’s looking into a possible genetic cause.  (See link for article)


To reiterate:

  • This study consisted of 79 people diagnosed with Lyme based off of matched serum and CSF samples.  Once again, no seronegative patients are represented.
  • A link between higher interferon-alpha levels and the persistent Lyme disease symptoms was found.  This does not prove causality.
  • This DOES NOT present a “significant shift in understanding.” It just supports the accepted, politicized CDC narrative that persistent/chronic infection doesn’t exist despite global research and reality which says it does.
  • Far more than 10% experience these depilating chronic symptoms.  They continue to regurgitate this number which only includes those diagnosed and treated early.  It doesn’t include the far larger subset of patients that are diagnosed and treated late.

Go here to read Lyme advocate Carl Tuttle’s letter to Strle where he reminds him that while interferon alpha has also been found in patients with chronic hepatitis, it wasn’t blamed for chronic hepatitis but rather was correlated with the presence of viral replication, or persistent viral infection.  He then reminds Strle of a 1995 case study on a Lyme patient who received multiple courses of IV and oral meds yet relapsed after each one and that the only way this patient stayed in remission was when kept on open ended clarithromycin.  To cinch the deal, Tuttle reminds Strle of a 2018 study of 12 Canadian Lyme patients who were culture positive for infection even after multiple years on antibiotics.  Tuttle simply but wisely asks the obvious question: would a chronic, persistent Lyme infection raise IFN-a levels?

‘The powers that be’ are desperate to continue the narrative because there’s a big Lyme “vaccine” in the pipeline that could make them lots of money.  A chronic/persistent infection would not be conducive to a vaccine.
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