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» LymeNet Flash » Questions and Discussion » Medical Questions » Sexual transmission, yes or no?

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Author Topic: Sexual transmission, yes or no?
VV
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I would like some opinions on this, and if anyone has found specific studies on it that are legit, please point the way.

The only studies I have seen are very small and deal with finding evidence of spirochetes in fluid.

Is there any more concrete evidence for transmission?

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Lymetoo
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This was discussed in May. Many links were given:

http://flash.lymenet.org/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/1/128785#000014

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

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birdie67
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In my opinion, and that of my LLND, YES!!!
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anuta
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YES, big time!
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elara
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I've searched the peer reviewed studies and I could not find any good evidence for sexual transmission. There is some that shows DNA presence in fluids but its few and far between.

There is a significant difference between presence in fluids and actual transmission in second half of the transmission path. Most of the discussion seems anecdotal. Caution is wise until better scientific evidence comes out that shows it one way or the other.


There was a recent study announced with testing of few couples in the "Western Regional Meeting of the American Federation for Medical Research, and an abstract of the research was published in the January issue of the Journal of Investigative Medicine". I could only find the study abstract but a paper never came out.


http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/01/prweb11506441.htm

One comment made was "The presence of the Lyme spirochete in genital secretions and identical strains in married couples strongly suggests that sexual transmission of the disease occurs" But this study also only tested fluids and drew their conclusions from there being the same strain. That would occurr if they were bitten in the same geographical location also so I'm not sure it proves anything.

There are a lot of people who seem convinced but I'm still waiting for solid evidence before deciding one way or the other. That being said, if someone was at the height of spirochetemia, the odds would obviously go way up. When its quite difficult to find spirochetes using PCR during later phases, the odds would go down.

I think its obvious to be careful during the first year or so of acquiring Lyme and especially before rigorous treatment. But that's true of any disease that can be caught by fluid transfer. But the consequnces of acquiring Lyme are quite significant.

Some say by making it a sexually transmitted disease, it would pressure on the CDC/IDSA to get their act together on the terrible testing and treatment. They need to do that whether its sexual or not given its magnitude, growth rate and complex implications. I don't believe they know how to get their act together one way or the other. If 300,000/yr doesn't help, nothing will!

Here is the abstract of the study. Its consitent with a few earlier animal studies that found spirochetes or DNA in fluids.

ISOLATION AND DETECTION OF BORRELIA BURGDORFERI FROM HUMAN VAGINAL AND SEMINAL SECRETIONS

Middelveen MJ 1 ,BandoskiC 2 ,BurkeJ 3 ,SapiE 2 ,Mayne PJ 4,Stricker RB 5 . 1 Atkins Veterinary Services, Calgary, AB, Canada; 2 University of New Haven, West Haven, CT; 3 Australian Biologics, Sydney, NSW, Australia; 4 Laurieton Medical Centre, Laurieton, NSW, Australia and 5 CPMC, San Francisco, CA.

Purpose of Study: Recent reports indicate that more than 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed yearly in the USA. Previous epidemiological and immunological studies suggest that infection with the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi could be transferred from person to person viaintimate human contact without a tick vector Harvey and Salvato, Med Hy-potheses 2003;60:742; Stricker et al, J Investig Med 2004;52:S151). Detecting viable spirochetes in vaginal and seminal secretions would provide additional evidence to support this hypothesis.

Methods Used:

Three North American patients with a history of Lyme dis-ease, one male and two female, were selected for the study after informed consent was obtained. Serological testing for B. burgdorferi was performed on all three subjects. Blood and semen or vaginal secretions were used to in-oculate BSK-H medium for Borrelia culture. Motile spirochetes were detected in cultures by light and/or dark field microscopy, and cultured spiro-chete concentrates were subjected to Dieterle silver staining, scanning elec-tron microscopy (SEM) and anti-B. burgdorferi immunohistochemical staining for further characterization. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing was performed by two independent laboratories for specific identification of the cultured isolates. Positive and negative controls for immunohistochemi-cal staining and PCR were performed in all experiments.

Summary of Results: Serum antibodies to B. burgdorferi were detected in all three patients. Motile spirochetes were observed in culture fluid inocu- lated with blood and genital secretions from the three subjects. Morpholog-ical features of spirochetes were confirmed by Dieterle staining, SEM and immunohistochemical staining of culture concentrates. PCR testing con- firmed that the spirochetes isolated from blood and genital secretions were strains of B. burgdorferi, and PCR subtyping indicated that the strains were B. burgdorferi sensu stricto.
Conclusions: The culture of viable B. burgdorferi in genital secretions suggests that Lyme disease could be transmitted by intimate contact from person to person.

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Razzle
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Since the much, much simpler spirochete Syphilis is an STD, I strongly suspect Lyme may be sexually transmitted as well.

But there may also be a lot of variables that determine whether the infected person's sexual partner gets the disease - how strong their mucosal immune system is, gender (i.e., the "direction" and location of potential transmission), etc.

The above is just my opinion...I am NOT a doctor.

--------------------
-Razzle
Lyme IgM IGeneX Pos. 18+++, 23-25+, 30++, 31+, 34++, 39 IND, 83-93 IND; IgG IGeneX Neg. 30+, 39 IND; Mayo/CDC Pos. IgM 23+, 39+; IgG Mayo/CDC Neg. band 41+; Bart. (clinical dx; Fry Labs neg. for all coinfections), sx >30 yrs.

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GretaM
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Razzle-I am 100% on the same wavelength as you.

Syphillis is a spirochete, and transmitted sexually.

Some dental spirochetes are transmitted person to person via saliva.

Leptospirosis is a spirochete and transmitted by contact with infected urine. Contact-not ingestion not open sores etc.

Why on earth would we expect the lyme spirochete to be different?

It would be the odd man out if contact with bodily fluids containing spirochetes did not cause transmission.

Just food for thought.

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bohomojo
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But who just gets Lyme? Are the co-infections transmitted, too?

I was very sexually active with my husband for 33 years - and had Lyme & Co the entire time and he didn't get sick. I know of SO many couples where this is the case.

My first LLMD said not to worry about it. My second Dr. said "But there are so many more efficient ways to get Lyme" - and told me not to worry.

I think it's probably transmitted but I think it would be not very easy .

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Lymetoo
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I agree, Boho. Nearly the same experience.

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

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VV
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quote:
Originally posted by GretaM:

Syphillis is a spirochete, and transmitted sexually.

Some dental spirochetes are transmitted person to person via saliva.


Why on earth would we expect the lyme spirochete to be different?


Syphillis can thrive in oxygen by acting as an aerobic bacteria.

Lyme only survives in anaerobic conditions.
Oxygen will kill the Lyme spirochete.

I am thinking this could make a big difference in transmissibility.

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Catgirl
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Ditto Razzle.

We get more from a tick bite though. I'm not so sure people need to worry about the sexual transmission. As Razzle said, there are lots of variables.

I think lyme is everywhere and in practically everyone anyway. It grows quite slowly as the symptoms are subtle, so not many people notice it. It also doesn't seem to do as much damage to some as it does others.

Many people live out their whole lives without even knowing about it, much less taking abx. I know people like this with some tell tale clinical symptoms. They live with the symptoms without even knowing about lyme. For them, sexual transmission isn't even a factor.

Ditto Bohomojo (my husband didn't get sick either). Your doc is right, there are so many more efficient ways to get it.

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--Keep an open mind about everything. Also, remember to visit ACTIVISM (we can change things together).

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VV
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quote:
Originally posted by elara:


There was a recent study announced with testing of few couples in the "Western Regional Meeting of the American Federation for Medical Research, and an abstract of the research was published in the January issue of the Journal of Investigative Medicine". I could only find the study abstract but a paper never came out.


http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/01/prweb11506441.htm

One comment made was "The presence of the Lyme spirochete in genital secretions and identical strains in married couples strongly suggests that sexual transmission of the disease occurs" But this study also only tested fluids and drew their conclusions from there being the same strain. That would occurr if they were bitten in the same geographical location also so I'm not sure it proves anything.


Yeah, I do not consider this to be good evidence.
A study like this certainly keeps the possibility in the air that Lyme is sexually transmitted, but it falls very short of being proof.

It's a very good point that couples could easily be infected by the same strain simply because they are in proximity to the same tick habitat.

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jb151
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I think it is sexually transmitted.

I also think that soooooooooooooo many people have Lyme and do not know it, i would guess 80-90%. A majority of these people will probably never even have symptoms and get sick.

It is very weird and really does not make much sense, as Lyme is very complicated, but i am thinking it comes down to a persons DNA and whether or not they are actually prone to " symptoms" of Lyme.

Maybe the DNA assumption is not correct and it just takes a "perfect storm" in order for it to activate and cause harm.

For example, you could have 5 people get bit by the same tick on the same day. Person 1 is bed ridden in two weeks. Person 2 has a sudden flu 8 months from the tick bite and then all hell breaks loose.

Person 3 gets a divorce 3 years later and is under a lot of stress and then all hell breaks loose.

Person 4 has a traumatic car accident 8 years later and all hell breaks loose.

Person 5 never has any symptoms at all ever.

Now there is no way to know for sure. Maybe the people that got sick later got bit again and did not realize it.

Maybe DNA does play a role.

We live in a deer infested area. I have 3 brothers, mother and father.

One brother is in late stage MS due to being sick with Lyme 30 years ago and no one knew what it was. I do not think MS is MS, i think Severe Lyme ( untreated), leads to MS.

The other brother had Lyme and was treated right at the start of the tick bite and is currently fine. This was 25 years ago.

I had Lyme as a kid and was treated right away ( rash), was fine until i had a severe stomach flu( 24 years later) that lasted for 4 weeks...................Then all hell broke loose. Did the Lyme just lie dormant and reactivated by the sudden illness( perfect storm), or was i re-infected and did not realize it. Not sure.

Mother has had Lyme treated right away and no current symptoms.

Father has never "had" Lyme. Plays golf, yard work, etc etc and bitten 30 or so times. Is his DNA different and somehow he does not ever get symptoms????? Not sure.

But i am fairly sure that if he was tested it would come back positive( even though he has no symptoms and never has had any).

Very very very frustrating all this Lyme crap is, to say the least.

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miyamotoi
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quote:
Syphillis is a spirochete, and transmitted sexually.

Some dental spirochetes are transmitted person to person via saliva.

Why on earth would we expect the lyme spirochete to be different?

The sphillis spirochete has evolved for millions of years as a primarily sexually transmitted disease. Lyme Disease has evolved to require a tick to inject it directly into the skin.

The sphillis spirochete as such forms sores on the genitals which puts millions of sprochetes in direct contact optimizing transmission and has evolved to survive the hostile and not so Borrelia friendly PH environment, the journey plus enough spirochetes surviving the inate immune attack on entry.

Its a major assumption that just because they belong to the same family of spirochetes that the biology of transmission should act the same. There is a big difference between a syphillis cancer sore on the genitals with millions of spirichetes tuned for transmission and a handful of Lyme spirochetes finding their way into the fluid and surviving the journey.

It probably has happened but very rarely and as others have said, only when there are lots of spirochetes in the blood at the peak of the infection cycle. Once it goes into chronic hiding as persisters sneaking around and the adaptive immune system has created antibodies and Killer T cells that kill it, its a sneaky bug that is nothing like Syphillis from a transmission point of view.

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birdie67
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My husband tested positive and has ZERO symptoms. He was only tested because it was reccommmended by my LLMD. Otherwise we would have never known that he has it. He is still symptom free.

I think unless you actually have the test by Igenix or another reputable lab, you can't say for sure that your partner doesn't have it. they just may have no symptoms.

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'Kete-tracker
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In the opinion of Dr. H & other LLMDs... No.
In the opinion of Dr. C & other LLMDs... YES.
We have a consensus of 'Maybe'.

My opinion is it *can* be [transmitted via sex], but doesn't transfer [to the uninfected partner] anywhere as easily as herpes, syphilis or gonorrhea.

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