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» LymeNet Flash » Questions and Discussion » Medical Questions » Could abnormal hair fibers be diagnostic for Lyme?

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Author Topic: Could abnormal hair fibers be diagnostic for Lyme?
Garz
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Are abnormal hair fibres diagnostic for Lyme?

I had originally posted this on the Lyme section of Phoenix Rising forums - but there the discussion ran mostly off-topic quite a bit and it’s not a dedicated Lyme forum which I think limited its visibility somewhat.
So, I thought I would post it here as this is a Lyme dedicated forum where I hope it could reach more Lyme sufferers.

My intention is mainly to raise awareness in the Lyme community and generate sufficient curiosity and interest amongst other Lyme sufferers such that a number of other people check their own hair fibres for similar findings to compare.


First some background.

My fiancé and I both became ill around 5 years ago with some mystery illness. Starting with fever, severe fatigue, headaches, swollen joints, neurological disturbances, gut issues and a host of odd and seemingly unconnected issues. We used to think this was a sudden onset – but we now realise odd random things had been going wrong with our health gradually for 6-12 months previously and had not connected the dots.

We have been up and down the UK seeing both NHS and private doctors and specialists but not received any satisfactory diagnosis that could explain how two previously fit and healthy high functioning persons could get ill at the same time with the same symptoms described.
However, all were strangely adamant that we couldn’t have an active infection. The NHS did eventually (years later) test for several infectious diseases like rickettsia, q-fever, Lyme etc - but all tests were unlikely to detect chronic infections and carried the rider that symptoms present for over 6months were unlikely to produce positive serology – unsurprisingly all tests were negative and I was therefore diagnosed with the fallback diagnosis of CFS or Fibromyalgia - depending on who I saw on the day.

5 years on and the best Rheumatologist and gut experts I could find admitted they had no one on their books who fitted our symptom picture and both independently suggested private test for Lyme disease despite the previous negative NHS results.

So, I did a full panel of approx. 11 tests with Armin labs in Germany a few months ago and received a positive result for both IgM and IgG antibodies for Borrelia, several other organisms and also a super low CD57+ count indicating low immune function often present in chronic Lyme disease.

More details are in my posts here - but in essence it looks very much like we have both been suffering with Lyme disease all along. I have interrogated the test results, published papers, Armin labs and the manufacturers of the test kits used - especially with regard the risk of false positive Lyme result and as far as I have been able to ascertain the chances of this are v small – less than 10% - combined with the low CD57+ count and the symptom patterns – our outdoor lifestyle and a history including tick bites - including in the USA - I, therefore, believe this is the best interpretation possible.

Now, bear with me, I know this is taking a little while to explain. Over the years of looking for a diagnosis, a chance event occurred that I wanted to share.

Gut issues and sensitivity to various foods (esp. carbs) were a constant feature of our illness and this is a common feature with various gut infections, particularly parasites. So, having lost faith in some of the commercial tests available due to conflicting results, I decided to take matters into my own hands and bought an old biological microscope I found locally. Originally from one of the Universities in southern England according to the labels.
It looked a bit beat up - but functional. To test it I plucked a few hairs out of my head and put them on a slide under the scope to confirm I could see them clearly. The scope needed a good clean but I could see the hairs and remember noting at the time they had some odd appearance - but since the job in hand was just a quick test to see the scope worked ok - I didn’t think much more of it.
Later after completing the stool slides, I had bought it for, and after finding nothing of great concern, my mind returned to this point of odd appearance of the hairs as a bit of a puzzle.

So, I took some more hairs from my head and looked at them again. Sure, enough there were anomalies again. I took hairs from my arms, legs etc and looked at those too. Again, there were the same sort of anomalies. This was interesting. So, to check if I was just some kind of freak or whether this could be a shared effect, I looked at some of my fiancé’s head hair (remember she suffers from the same symptoms as me although she has improved somewhat now in terms of main symptoms) - and again found similar but less pronounced anomalies.

What could be causing it. I thought back through my reading and remember:
• several references that borrelial organisms infect and multiply in the keratinocytes of the skin
• many references to their inflammatory actions inside cells, consumption of collagen and other materials needed for healthy tissue.
• the link now quite well documented between Borrelia infection and Morgellons disease - a condition in which abnormal coloured and deformed keratin fibres and other keratin artifacts are exuded from the skin of infected persons (typically from a damaged hair follicle inside skin lesions I believe.
• There is also a borrelial infection in cattle that causes abnormal copious fine keratin fibre / abnormal hair eruption from the skin around the hoofs of infected animals
These last two references demonstrating that borrelia can cause abnormal hair formation.

So I thought this would be a good place to share what I have found, for others with suspected tick-borne illnesses ( especially Lyme disease - and also Bartonella as it is also known to reside in the skin) to see if their hair is similarly effected and if so it is possible that this sign/symptom could be a useful indicator that people could do at home, whilst diagnostic tests are of such limited effectiveness.

First here are some typical healthy human hair photos from google - note the smooth surface and consistent diameter

 -

and under greater magnification still very smooth and regular
 -


This pattern of flattened regular scales called Imbricate scales is typical of human hair - as per the diagram below and very clear in the scanning electron microscope image.

 -




the photos below are from my beat-up old Watson biological microscope with an iphone strapped to the top – so please forgive the image quality.

Note also; depth of focus is very narrow with the current setup so any non-flat object is difficult to capture in focus over its entire length but hopefully you can see the abnormalities I am referring to.

Spiral ridges

 -

Irregular surface features

 -

Ribbon like

 -


Horn like structures


 -


Abnormal features noted
• Ridges and helix like spirals on the surface of the hair that appear to have formed when the hair was grown (smooth rather than abraded or frayed edges as expected with healthy but later damaged hair)
• Irregular surface texture - random lumpy texture – rather than smooth fine scales
• Irregular thickness of the hair – varying along its length
• Ribbon like hairs – not round in section
• Horn like structures in the hair - this is the most extreme anomaly I saw – protruding up to 1x the hair thickness.
Not all hairs were affected. Perhaps 70% of the hairs on my head had notable changes.

Hairs on my head had the most noticeable changes - arms, legs and others areas less so – hairs on my chest were non-round in section - more ribbonlike – but this could be entirely normal.

My partners hair had surface imperfections but generally to a much lesser extent than my own (fewer hairs affected and each to a lesser extent ) so if this is related to Borrelia infection it could be that the anomalies vary in proportion to the severity of illness - as my partner is less ill than myself having made part recovery since our sickest point approx. 3 years ago (entirely supposition at this point).

For reference – here is an Example of a study linking Morgellon’s disease to borrelial infection and abnormal hairs in cattle

https://www.researchgate.net/public..._A_comparative_approach_to_Morgellons_disease


Could be nothing – or could be something - either way I think it worth pursuing as currently it is very difficult indeed to differentiate CFS/ME and Lyme – or Lyme and various other diseases if you did not have a clear positive blood test and / or a Bulls eye rash ( there are a lot of people suffering out there who fall into this category)

I wanted to stimulate discussion as I would be interested in others views

But in particular I think it would be most interesting if there is anyone else here with a microscope and a suspected borrelial infection who would like to add their findings for comparison.

(I have been having some issues linking images here - so please see the original post on Pheonix Rising here if they don't show up
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/threads/abnormal-hair-fibers-exploring-possible-link-to-tick-borne-illness.77648/ )

Posts: 17 | From UK | Registered: Feb 2020  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lymetoo
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Member # 743

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Suggestion .. Try posting the pics and the link in a reply.

The link and/or the pics are making the text go W I D E ... extremely difficult for us to read.

Welcome to Lymenet!!


OH.... It would probably be easier for you to post the TEXT in a reply .. that would be far easier.

Thanks

--------------------
--Lymetutu--
Opinions, not medical advice!

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Garz
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thanks for the suggestion

reposting the text only below:

I don't think I can make the images display properly here - suggest viewing them on the Pheonix rising thread as the simplest work around
see link
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/threads/abnormal-hair-fibers-exploring-possible-link-to-tick-borne-illness.77648/

I had originally posted this on the Lyme section of Phoenix Rising forums - but there the discussion ran mostly off topic quite a bit and it’s not a dedicated Lyme forum which I think limited its visibility somewhat.
So, I thought I would post it here as this is a Lyme dedicated forum where I hope it could reach more Lyme sufferers.

My intention is mainly to raise awareness in the Lyme community and generate sufficient curiosity and interest amongst other Lyme sufferers such that a number of other people check their own hair fibres for similar findings to compare.


First some background.

My fiancé and I both became ill around 5 years ago with some mystery illness. Starting with fever, severe fatigue, headaches, swollen joints, neurological disturbances, gut issues and a host of odd and seemingly unconnected issues. We used to think this was a sudden onset – but we now realise odd random things had been going wrong with our health gradually for 6-12 months previously and had not connected the dots.

We have been up and down the UK seeing both NHS and private doctors and specialists but not received any satisfactory diagnosis that could explain how two previously fit and healthy high functioning persons could get ill at the same time with the same symptoms described.
However, all were strangely adamant that we couldn’t have an active infection. The NHS did eventually (years later) test for several infectious diseases like rickettsia, q-fever, Lyme etc - but all tests were unlikely to detect chronic infections and carried the rider that symptoms present for over 6months were unlikely to produce positive serology – unsurprisingly all tests were negative and I was therefore diagnosed with the fallback diagnosis of CFS or Fibromyalgia - depending on who I saw on the day.

5 years on and the best Rheumatologist and gut experts I could find admitted they had no one on their books who fitted our symptom picture and both independently suggested private test for Lyme disease despite the previous negative NHS results.

So, I did a full panel of approx. 11 tests with Armin labs in Germany a few months ago and received a positive result for both IgM and IgG antibodies for Borrelia, several other organisms and also a super low CD57+ count indicating low immune function often present in chronic Lyme disease.

More details are in my posts here - but in essence it looks very much like we have both been suffering with Lyme disease all along. I have interrogated the test results, published papers, Armin labs and the manufacturers of the test kits used - especially with regard the risk of false positive Lyme result and as far as I have been able to ascertain the chances of this are v small – less than 10% - combined with the low CD57+ count and the symptom patterns – our outdoor lifestyle and a history including tick bites - including in the USA - I therefore believe this is the best interpretation possible.

Now, bear with me, I know this is taking little while to explain. Over the years of looking for a diagnosis, a chance event occurred that I wanted to share.

Gut issues and sensitivity to various foods (esp. carbs) were a constant feature of our illness and this is a common feature with various gut infections, particularly parasites. So, having lost faith in some of the commercial tests available due to conflicting results, I decided to take matters into my own hands and bought an old biological microscope I found locally. Originally from one of the Universities in southern England according to the labels.
It looked a bit beat up - but functional. To test it I plucked a few hairs out of my head and put them on a slide under the scope to confirm I could see them clearly. The scope needed a good clean but I could see the hairs and remember noting at the time they had some odd appearance - but since the job in hand was just a quick test to see the scope worked ok - I didn’t think much more of it.
Later after completing the stool slides, I had bought it for, and after finding nothing of great concern, my mind returned to this point of odd appearance of the hairs as a bit of a puzzle.

So, I took some more hairs from my head and looked at them again. Sure, enough there were anomalies again. I took hairs from my arms, legs etc and looked at those too. Again, there were the same sort of anomalies. This was interesting. So, to check if I was just some kind of freak or whether this could be a shared effect, I looked at some of my fiancé’s head hair (remember she suffers from the same symptoms as me although she has improved somewhat now in terms of main symptoms) - and again found similar but less pronounced anomalies.

What could be causing it. I thought back through my reading and remember:
• several references that borrelial organisms infect and multiply in the keratinocytes of the skin
• many references to their inflammatory actions inside cells, consumption of collagen and other materials needed for healthy tissue.
• the link now quite well documented between borrelia infection and Morgellons disease - a condition in which abnormal coloured and deformed keratin fibres and other keratin artefacts are exuded from the skin of infected persons (typically from a damaged hair follicle inside skin lesions I believe.
• There is also a borrelial infection in cattle that causes abnormal copious fine keratin fibre / abnormal hair eruption from the skin around the hoofs of infected animals
These last two references demonstrating that borrelia can cause abnormal hair formation.

So I thought this would be a good place to share what I have found, for others with suspected tick borne illnesses ( especially Lyme disease - and also Bartonella as it is also known to reside in the skin) to see if their hair is similarly effected and if so its possible that this sign/symptom could be a useful indicator that people could do at home, whilst diagnostic tests are of such limited effectiveness.

First here are some typical healthy hair photos from google - note the smooth surface and consistent diameter







This pattern of flattened regular scales called Imbricate scales is typical of human hair - as per the diagram below and very clear in the scanning electron microscope image below that.








Photos below are from my beat-up old Watson biological microscope with an iphone strapped to the top – so please forgive the image quality.

Note also; depth of focus is very narrow with the current setup so any non-flat object is difficult to capture over its entire length but hopefully you can see the abnormalities I am referring to.

Spiral ridges



Irregular surface features



Ribbon like



Horn like structures



Abnormal features noted
• Ridges and helix like spirals on the surface of the hair that appear to have formed when the hair was grown (smooth rather than abraded or frayed edges as expected with healthy but later damaged hair)
• Irregular surface texture - random lumpy texture – rather than smooth fine scales
• Irregular thickness of the hair – varying along its length
• Ribbon like hairs – not round in section
• Horn like structures in the hair - this is the most extreme anomaly I saw – protruding up to 1x the hair thickness.
Not all hairs were affected. Perhaps 70% of the hairs on my head had notable changes.

Hairs on my head had the most noticeable changes - arms, legs and others areas less so – hairs on my chest were non-round in section - more ribbonlike – but this could be entirely normal.

My partners hair had surface imperfections but generally to a much lesser extent than my own ( less hairs effected and each to a lesser extent ) so if this is related to borrelia infection it could be that the anomalies vary in proportion to the severity of illness - as my partner is less ill than myself having made part recovery since our sickest point approx. 3 years ago (entirely supposition at this point).

For reference – here is an Example of study linking Morgellon’s disease to borrelial infection and abnormal hairs in cattle

https://www.researchgate.net/public..._A_comparative_approach_to_Morgellons_disease


Could be nothing – or could be something - either way I think it worth pursuing as currently it is very difficult indeed to differentiate CFS/ME and Lyme – or Lyme and various other diseases if you did not have a clear positive blood test and / or a Bulls eye rash ( there are a lot of people suffering out there who fall into this category)

I wanted to stimulate discussion as I would be interested in others views
But in particular I think it would be most interesting if there is anyone else here with a microscope and a suspected borrelial infection who would like to add their findings for comparison.

Posts: 17 | From UK | Registered: Feb 2020  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bartenderbonnie
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Welcome to Lymenet Garz

Here is a link to the Charles E. Holman Mogellons Disease Foundation

;
https://morgellonsdisease.org/morgellons-disease-pictures/

You can compare pictures and contact them directly for support and treatment providers.

Latest research on connection to Lyme disease;
https://www.dovepress.com/getfile.php?fileID=32980

Very hard to read your post.

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Garz
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Thanks, Bonnie
yes - I am aware of that site - my interest in Morgellons is
mainly that it demonstrates a link between Borrelia and abnormal hair fibers -
rather than as an illness I wish to treat or
research further if you follow me.

My post here is hoping to shed light on whether this symptom is,
in fact, common amongst chronic Lyme disease sufferers
and therefore could potentially be an adjunct to blood tests
which currently leave many in a grey area and confused.

PS not sure why my post is stretched across the page like that -
I use plenty of forums and they normally format
any text to fit whatever page width they use.

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jefff0
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Abnormal fibers can be a symptom of a bartonella infection. Some people call that Morgellons.


www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0168952593900149?via%3Dihub

"Genetic skin diseases caused by mutations in keratin intermediate filaments"

The actual fibers are a result of an induced genetic mutation.

www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0003986110005163

"Keratin Gene Mutations in Disorders of Human Skin and its Appendages"

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1046/j.1462-5822.2001.00104.x

"Formation of stress fibres in human endothelial cells infected with Bartonella bacilliformis is associated with altered morphology, impaired migration and defects in cell morphogenesis"

www.pnas.org/content/108/35/14643.abstract

“Conjugative DNA transfer into human cells by the VirB/VirD4 type IV secretion system of the bacterial pathogen Bartonella henselae”

“Bacterial type IV secretion systems (T4SS) mediate interbacterial conjugative DNA transfer and transkingdom protein transfer into eukaryotic host cells in bacterial pathogenesis. The sole bacterium known to naturally transfer DNA into eukaryotic host cells via a T4SS is the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Here we demonstrate T4SS-mediated DNA transfer from a human bacterial pathogen into human cells. We show that the zoonotic pathogen Bartonella henselae can transfer a cryptic plasmid occurring in the bartonellae into the human endothelial cell line EA.hy926 via its T4SS VirB/VirD4”

Simply stated the "Morgellons" fibers are mutations of an existing cell fiber. Mutations are the result of altered DNA.

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Garz
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Thanks Jefff0 - I have replied to your message
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Garz
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So, does anyone here have a confirmed Lyme diagnosis and a microscope to be able to check their own hair?

if it is a widespread trait/symptom it could be very useful in diagnosis for a lot of sick people

[ 02-14-2020, 04:59 PM: Message edited by: Garz ]

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Robin123
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No idea whether this means you're dealing with any other illness besides Lyme that could be causing this. My guess is that a lack of minerals could also cause changes in hair characteristics.
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Garz
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quote:
Originally posted by Robin123:
No idea whether this means you're dealing with any other illness besides Lyme that could be causing this. My guess is that a lack of minerals could also cause changes in hair characteristics.

true, that's possible, but I think the only way we will know is if we can get a number of other lyme sufferers to test their own hair.
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