September 19, 2022

Approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to CDC every year. Lyme disease transmits the Lyme disease-causing bacteria to humans through the bite of infected ticks with symptoms including fever, headaches, tiredness, and a skin rash. If Lyme is left undetected, the infection can infect the body’s joints, heart, and even nervous system. These patients can suffer from severe neurological issues, significantly diminishing their quality of life.

While antibiotics can effectively treat most cases that are detected early,, undetected infections become harder to eradicate and can cause more prolonged-term effects on people. Research about these neuroinflammation symptoms associated with Lyme disease is limited and evolving. 

 Recently, researchers at the Tulane National Primate Research Center discovered remnants of B. burgdorferi, the bacteria causing Lyme disease, may contribute to inflammation in the nervous system. In fact, these remnants can be more inflammatory (and can also cause cell death) than live bacteria, according to the trials using nonhuman primates. 

While antibiotics kill most intact bacteria in organs, some individuals cannot completely rid themselves of the remnants. Geetha Parthasarathy, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the Tulane National Primate Research Center, explains, “As neuroinflammation is the basis of many neurological disorders, lingering inflammation in the brain due to these unresolved fragments could cause long-term health consequences.”

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