Look Out! It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's....Super Borrelia!
Posted Aug 24 2008 3:15pm
The Lyme disease story just keeps getting uglier and uglier.
Never mind all the political roadblocks to treatment; the rising incidences of illness or the difficulty in treating Lyme due to co-infections.
Did you know that one of the reasons why Lyme disease is spreading so rapidly, and why it is so difficult to treat, is because the most common strain of borrelia burgdoferi, Ospc type A, can hop continents like a grasshopper on steroids? Did you know that it is also able to adapt to new ecosystems without having to pack any change of genes into its biological suitcase, as it moves from one place to another? These two factors partially account for the increased incidences, and virulence of, Lyme disease.
How do we know this about Ospc type A? Well, genetically, Ospc type A in the United States is almost identical to its cousin in Europe, which is highly indicative of its ability to survive in multiple ecosystems and go from one continent to another in a relatively short period of time.
This super bug is responsible for a majority of Lyme disease cases; however, that so many are infected is due, only in part, to its hardy genes. We are making Borrelia Ospc A's job easier by moving closer and closer to tick-infested habitats.
How tempting it is to live nearby a peaceful, wooded area! Never mind the ticks...surely, if we use enough DEET and cover our legs with three layers of socks, we'll be fine, right? Well...do you have a dog? Does your dog ever go outside? Do you really think you can detect a nymph-sized tick on your body, even though it's the size of a pinhead? Enough said. Like I said, Ospc A is a super bug. Think twice before moving into the Enchanted Forest.
But there's more bad news.
The increased virulence of Ospc A and other strains of borrelia is evidenced not only by their ability to travel like rockets and adapt to multiple ecosystems, but also by what they are able to do once inside your body.
There, they really have an opportunity to display their bugly prowess, by evading the immune system through mutations, physical seclusion and the secretion of toxins, such as porin, which is thought to be used by borrelia to punch holes in host cell membranes. How nice. No wonder I feel as though I don't have any brains left at times. My head is holy--I mean, hole-y.
The success of Borrelia's hide-and-seek metamorphosis circus act is due to its super-bug genes. Borrelia doesn't travel light and when it goes to new places, it brings over 1,500 genes along with it. Additionally, it has 17-21 plasmids, which contain almost as much DNA as its chromosomes. (Plasmids are extra-chromosomal DNA molecules which are separate from chromosomes, and which are capable of replicating independent of DNA). This entitles Borrelia to perform astounding tricks such as those mentioned above. It may even enable it to transfer its DNA to other pathogens.
Yes, I know...EXCUSE ME? Borrelia can transfer some of its genetic make-up to the billions of other bugs in my body? Well...according to what I have read from various sources...yes.
So what does this mean? That borrelia is capable of transferring some of its infectious prowess to other pathogens? Maybe. That getting rid of borrelia isn't sufficient, because we then have to contend with other infections that it has empowered with its mess of DNA? Probably. Do these "other" infections become more difficult to eradicate, once they have been "tainted" by borrelia? Again, perhaps.
All I know is that some serious stuff is happening in Borrelia-Ville. This super pathogen seems to be becoming more super by the decade...or should I say, by the day?
I have to wonder how we can treat an organism like this one, in an environment where toxins and weak immune systems are becoming ever-more prevalent. I can think of only one answer; we have to get smarter than the organisms that we've created. We have to turn to God for help, because indeed, only the creator of all things, can get us out of the grandiose bug mess that we've gotten ourselves into.