Lyme 101: History of Lyme Borrelia

Courtesy of Living Lyme

Lyme disease has been around for centuries. The first case of Lyme disease was recorded in 1883 in Germany. In 1909 Arvid Afzelius presented his research on the ring like rash (erythema migrans) which would later become known as the tell-tale rash of Lyme disease. He published his work in 1921 speculating the origin of the disease was from ticks and connected it to joint problems. Throughout the 20’s and 30’s evidence was found to link the disease to joint, neurological, heart, and psychiatric problems.

It wasn’t until 1975, thanks to a group of concerned mothers in Lyme Connecticut, that the first cases of Lyme disease were recorded in the United States. There was an extraordinary amount of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed in this small community. This would later become ground zero for the epidemic we now know as Lyme disease.

In the 1980’s, William Burgdorfer helped Jorge Benach investigate an outbreak of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which led to his discoveries linking Lyme disease and its many co-infections to ticks. Dr. Burgdorfer had been studying tick-borne diseases for 30 years. He was the first to show that Lyme spirochetes could be found in ticks throughout this country. It was due to his discoveries of the Lyme spirochetes that they were named after him, now known as Borrelia Burdorferi. Although several new strains of the Borrelia species have since been discovered, this strain is still the most common spirochete to cause Lyme disease.

There is much controversy surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, and there is still a need for more research to learn more about how this disease works and the best way to prevent it and treat it.

Source: Living Lyme