Although the agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted only by Ixodes ticks, the question of sexual transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi has been a matter of speculation in the public media because both B. burgdorferi and Treponema pallidum, the agent of syphilis, are spirochetes.
They utilize skin as the point of entry to establish an infection; however, the similarity ends there.
In the case of T. pallidum, syphilis spirochetes grow to abundance in moist scabs on superficial ulcers known as chancres, and syphilis spirochetes are transmitted by sexual contact through abrasions of the genital, anal or oral mucosa.
By contrast, B. burgdorferi spirochetes are present only in sparse numbers in the deep inner layers of the skin; unlike Treponema, B. burgdorferi spirochetes cannot survive on the surface of the skin or genital mucosa.
Lyme disease spirochetes enter the skin through a highly ordered process of metabolic changes in the spirochetes during feeding by its tick vector.
There are no epidemiological or clinical data to support the sexual transmission of Lyme disease.
The biology of B. burgdorferi has been extensively investigated in the laboratory using several well-defined animal models under highly controlled conditions; it should be noted that in many of the animal models used, infection with B. burgdorferi commonly results in the wide-spread dissemination of spirochetes throughout the body and body fluids.
The results of these studies provide no evidence of transmission by direct contact, transmission to the fetus from infected pregnant animals, and transmission by sexual contact.
The CDC has no record of a single case of Lyme disease that has been sexually transmitted.
1. Barthold, S. W. 1991. Infectivity of Borrelia burgdorferi relative to route of inoculation and genotype in laboratory mice. J Infect Dis 163:419-420.
2. Moody, K. D., and S. W. Barthold. 1991. Relative infectivity of Borrelia burgdorferi in Lewis rats by various routes of inoculation. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 44:135-139.
3. Silver, R. M., L. M. Yang, R. A. Daynes, D. W. Branch, C. M. Salafia, and J. J. Weis. 1995. Fetal outcome of murine Lyme disease. Infect Immun 63:66-72.
4. Weis, J. J., L. Yang, K. PetriSeiler, and R. M. Silver. 1997. Pathological manifestations in murine Lyme disease: association with tissue invasion and spirochete persistence. Clin Infect Dis 25(suppl):S18-S24.
5. Woodrum, J. E., and J. H. Oliver. 1999. Investigation of venereal, transplacental, and contact transmission of the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, in Syrian hamsters. J Parasitol 85:426-430.
I think he has a very appropriate name. He is a WORM.
Posted by sutherngrl (Member # 16270) on :
Yes the name fits. The lowest of the low!
Posted by Lymetoo (Member # 743) on :
"The CDC has no record of a single case of Lyme disease that has been sexually transmitted."
++++++++++++++++++ Big Shock!! The CDC has no records of LOTS of important things concerning lyme.
oh... The WORM acts like sperm doesn't exist. Makes me laugh out loud!!
Posted by map1131 (Member # 2022) on :
Wow, this is good to know. I've worried about my husband for years. I can write that off my list of worries.
After all I would think a Worm would recognize a worm????
Posted by TerryK (Member # 8552) on :
A study previously posted by TC
Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1986 Mar;35(2):355-9.
Experimental inoculation of Peromyscus spp. with Borrelia burgdorferi: evidence of contact transmission.
Burgess EC, Amundson TE, Davis JP, Kaslow RA, Edelman R.
In order to determine if Peromyscus spp. could become infected with the Lyme disease spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi) by direct inoculation and to determine the duration of spirochetemia, 4 P. leucopus and 5 P. maniculatus were inoculated by the intramuscular, intraperitoneal, and subcutaneous routes with an isolate of B. burgdorferi obtained from the blood of a trapped wild P. leucopus from Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.
All of the mice developed antibodies to B. burgdorferi which reached a peak indirect immunofluorescent (IFA) geometric mean antibody titer of 10 log2 21 days post-inoculation. B burgdorferi was recovered from the blood of 1 P. maniculatus 21 days post-inoculation.
One uninfected Peromyscus of each species was housed in the same cage with the infected Peromyscus as a contact control. Both of the contact controls developed IFA B. burgdorferi antibodies by day 14, indicating contact infection.
To determine if B. burgdorferi was being transmitted by direct contact, 5 uninfected P. leucopus and 5 uninfected P. maniculatus were caged with 3 B. burgdorferi infected P. leucopus and 3 infected P. maniculatus, respectively.
Each of these contact-exposed P. leucopus and P. maniculatus developed antibodies to B. burgdorferi, and B. burgdorferi was isolated from the blood of 1 contact-exposed P. maniculatus 42 days post-initial contact.
These findings show that B. burgdorferi can be transmitted by direct contact without an arthropod vector.
PMID: 3513648 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Posted by TerryK (Member # 8552) on :
Ticks pass it to each other sexually
J Med Entomol. 1996 May;33(3):351-4.
Exchange of Borrelia burgdorferi between Ixodes persulcatus (Ixodidae:Acarina) sexual partners. Alekseev AN, Dubinina HV.
Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, Universitetskaja nab., St. Petersburg, Russia.
Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato infection rate in Ixodes persulcatus Schulze maintained at different relative humidity gradients in male and females pairs, separated by sex, and in ticks of both sexes having either normal or abnormal exoskeleton were compared.
Ticks were collected in the St. Petersburg Region of Russia during 1992 and 1994. We observed that the infection rate among the ticks maintained as sexual pairs was 1.75-2.00 times higher than that among ticks maintained singles, indicating a borreliae interchange between sexual partners.
This pathogen interchange was thought to result from a venereal or omovampiric (cannibalistic) mode of borreliae transmission.
Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. was determined to be present in 22.9% (112 infected specimens of 489 total), whereas infection occurred in 17.4% of single females and 16.5% of single males.
The data indicate the importance of isolating ticks sexually during quantitative disease investigations with borreliae as well as tick-borne encephalitis virus and other tick-borne pathogens.
PMID: 8667380 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Posted by TerryK (Member # 8552) on :
Experimental inoculation of dogs with Borrelia burgdorferi.
One four month old beagle was inoculated SQ with 5 ground Ixodes dammini from Shelter Island, N.Y. which came from an area with a 50% B. burgdorferi tick infection rate; and another uninfected four month old beagle was housed loose on the floor with the tick inoculated dog.
All three spirochete inoculated beagles developed IFA antibody titers to B. burgdorferi of (7 log2) to (8 log2) by day 28 post inoculation. All were apparently healthy and no spirochetes were cultured from the blood.
In an attempt to exacerbate the disease two of the dogs were given 3 mg of dexamethasone on day 68 post inoculation. B. burgdorferi was isolated from blood of all these dogs on days 4 and 97 days post inoculation. The tick inoculated dog developed a B. burgdorferi IFA antibody titer of (10 log2) by day 14 post inoculation.
The contact exposed dog also developed a B. burgdorferi IFA antibody titer of (7 log2) on post contact day 21 indicating contact infection. B. burgdorferi was not isolated from either of these dogs. These results indicate that, contact transmission of B. burgdorferi may occur between dogs, dogs can be subclinically infected with B. burgdorferi and have persistent infections. . Posted by TerryK (Member # 8552) on :
Just digging out more studies that have already been posted here at lymenet.
Experimental and Applied Acarology Publisher: Springer Netherlands ISSN: 0168-8162 (Paper) 1572-9702 (Online) DOI: 10.1023/A:1006058728821 Issue: Volume 23, Number 2 Date: February 1999 Pages: 165 - 169
Sexual transmission of Borrelia garinii by male Ixodes persulcatus ticks (Acari, Ixodidae)
Audrey N. Alekseev1, Helen V. Dubinina1, Sjoerd G.T. Rijpkema2 and Leo M. Schouls2 (1) Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Universitetskaya nabSt, Petersburg, Russia (2) Research Laboratory for Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment Bilthoven, The-Netherlands
Abstract We investigated the transmission of Borrelia garinii and Borrelia afzelii between male and female Ixodes persulcatus ticks.
For this purpose the infection rate of partners from tick couples was determined by polymerase chain reaction and reverse line blot. In couples, where the male tick was infected with B. garinii, four out of nine female partners carried B. garinii.
In eight couples, male ticks had a dual infection of B. afzelii and B. garinii and three female partners were infected by Borrelia spirochetes. Two female ticks carried B. garinii, and one female tick had a dual infection.
No evidence for transmission of B. afzelii from male to female ticks was found among seven couples. In 45 couples where the female tick was infected, not one male tick carried spirochetes.
The difference in the B. garinii infection rate between male and female ticks among these couples is highly significant.
Our data suggest that transmission of B. garinii from male ticks to female ticks does occur. Sexual transmission of this pathogen may play an important role in the maintenance of B. garinii in I. persulcatus.