Lyme Disease – Sexual Transmission and Other Means of Infection
UPDATE: New evidence has emerged that Lyme disease may be a sexually transmitted disease.
There is some evidence of the presence of Borrelia in blood stored for donation by infected patients but no cases of Lyme disease ever having been contracted through blood transfusion. Caution is applied however, with those undergoing treatment for Lyme disease encouraged to wait until their treatment has been successful before donating blood.
Lyme Disease in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Concerns also exist over the possibility of transmitting Lyme disease to an unborn baby during pregnancy but there is currently no evidence that this occurs. Infection of the placenta may occur however and there is an association between infection occurring after conception and possible stillbirth (Mylonas, 2010); it is unlikely however that such deaths will be reported as death from Lyme disease. Where appropriate treatment is administered however, no adverse effects on the foetus have been demonstrated. Breastfeeding is also thought to pose no risk of infection transmission although mothers who are being treated with antibiotics for Lyme disease should ensure that the medication is appropriate for use if they continue to breastfeed. Lyme disease complications during pregnancy are yet to be established fully but there are some claims over a connection between gestational Lyme disease and autism in offspring, although no evidence is available as yet to substantiate such Lyme disease myths.
Pets and Lyme Disease Transmission
Pets may also be blamed for infecting their human companions with Lyme disease but there is no evidence that direct animal-human Lyme disease transmission is possible. Instead, it is likely that a pet who is bitten by an infected tick may brush off this tick in the house and that the tick will then seek another mammalian host to finish its required meal, thus transmitting Lyme disease to both animal and human in some cases. Applying appropriate prevention techniques to protect your pet from tick bites not only safeguards their healthy but is also beneficial for the rest of the family.
Hunters and Lyme Disease
Those engaging in blood sports may be at increased risk of Lyme disease infection. This is not due to the consumption of infected animal flesh but from the higher extent of exposure to infected ticks when skinning (dressing) animals such as deer or squirrels. Thorough cooking of the meat from deer and squirrels is advised however, in order to reduce the risks of other bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli). Deer themselves are often not infected with Lyme disease but do act as an important host reservoir for infection and the transport of infected tick populations.
Other insects and bugs encountered in the great outdoors, such as mosquitoes, lice, fleas, and flies, are not thought to transmit the Lyme disease bacteria through their bites, or through faeces or urine deposits, although other infections may result from such exposure. Some other ticks, such as the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), are also not considered responsible for Lyme disease transmission.
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