Is the information given to us by authoritative agencies and experts regarding lyme disease to be trusted? Nope. In fact, the information is so contradictory and flawed that it’s nothing short of amusing. But the laughter sadly gets stuck in your throat when you realize the impact of this gathered ignorance – whether it is out of deliberateness or obliviousness.
To saw a bit into one of the rotten trees, we can ponder the different timeframes stated regarded the risk of borrelia transmission from a tick attached to the body. These are all sources from Sweden and Finland, a deliberate choice in order to illustrate that our situation here is much like that found in most other countries all over the world.
Here is some expertise drawn from the internet (quotes and links can be found at the bottom of this page):
- 2009: The transmission usually doesn’t occur immediately (Infectious diseases specialist Leif Dotevall)
- 2010: The transmission doesn’t occur until after 24 hours (Infectious diseases specialist Kathrina Ornstein)
- 2010: The risk of transmission during the first 48 hours is practically zero (Peter Wahlberg, professor Dag Nyman)
- 2010: Transmission might have occurred early, before the tick had engorged (Professor Dag Nyman et al.)
- 2012: Transmission occurs after about 24 hours (Epidemiologist Marika Hjertqvist)
- 2013: Transmission doesn’t occur immediately (fact-checking by Dotevall)
- 2014: The earliest onset for transmission is 12 hours (fact-checking by Dotevall)
Confusing? Very much so. Ranging from a possibility of immediate transmission to practically no risk whatsoever during the first 48 hours. Furthermore, two of the experts contradict themselves. And this mess of a stew is cooked by different experts in the field.
What do researchers say? The reason for the slow transmission rate is presented to be due to the bacteria residing in the gut, and that traveling up to the bite wound takes quite some time. There is, as you can see, quite different opinions about how long that might take.
Still, in one extensive research (in which 1962 ticks were examined), the borrelia bacteria was found in the tick’s saliva prior to the bite, making an immediate transmission possible. Is this new and ground-breaking research? No. The study was published in 1995.
Transmission during the initial 16 hours is also well documented (as outlined here.) Furthermore, in several of these studies the transmission rate at 48 hours has been 100 percent – that is, the infection has been transmitted inside a timeframe following the tick bite in which professor Dag Nyman have described the risk of transmission as being slim to none.
I can think of no more than two possible explanations for this: The experts haven’t posessed the needed knowledge, or they’ve chosen to ignore it.
If they didn’t know, they are not fitted for their jobs. If they’ve chosen to selectively ignore part of the facts, they shouldn’t be allowed to hold their positions. In any case, these experts cannot be trusted.
Drawn upon available research in the field, my layman’s summary of the risk of transmission is as follows:
- when bitten by a tick, the borrelia bacteria can be transmitted immediately
- the longer the tick stays attached, the greater the risk
- “The borrelia bacterias are usually not transmitted immediately after the tick has drilled its mouthpiece into the skin. The risk of borrelia transmission increases depending on the duration of the tick bite. In exceptional cases, spirochetes can be transmitted after only a few hours, but the risk is considered to be greatly reduced if the tick is removed within 24 hours.”
(Information från Läkemedelsverket, Sweden 2009, text by infectious diseases specialist Leif Dotevall. In swedish, translated by me)
- “If the tick is removed within 24 hours one shouldn’t catch lyme disease”
(Sveriges Radio 2010, infectious diseases specialist Kathrina Ornstein. In swedish, translated by me)
- “The risk of catching the disease is […] practically zero if the tick is removed within 24-48 hours after the bite.”
(Borreliagruppen på Åland, 2010, Peter Wahlberg and professor Dag Nyman. In swedish, translation and bracketed ellipsis by me)
- “Interestingly, two of the study subjects bitten by Bb-positive ticks and who seroconverted had been bitten by ticks that were not engorged, suggesting that transmission may have occurred early. However, previous studies have shown that transmission during tick feeding may commence earlier in Ixodes ricinus than in Ixodes scapularis. This may explain the seroconversion in the subjects bitten by ticks that were not engorged.”
(Linda Fryman et al. – including professor Dag Nyman – 2010, in english, original quote.)
- “The borrelia bacteria resides in the gut of the tick, and hence it takes approximately 24 hours after the tick bite until the disease is transmitted”
(Aftonbladet 2012, Marika Hjertqvist, epidemiologist at Smittskyddsinstitutet, Sweden. In swedish, translated by me.)
- “The transmission of the borrelia bacteria does not occur immediately, but likely at least 12 hours later. This is why it is important to remove the tick as soon as possible.”
(INFPREG/Karolinska Sjukhuset 2013, text fact-checked by Leif Dotevall. In swedish, translated by me.)
- “[…] when bitten, it takes at least 12-24 hours until the borrelia [bacteria] travels from the gut of the tick to its salivary glands and the disease is transmitted.”
(Mats Reimer in Dagens Nyheter, 2014, text fact-checked by Leif Dotevall. In swedish, translation and brackets by me.)