Can Lyme Disease be sexually transmitted?
A woman in Ohio claims she contracted Lyme Disease through sexual contact is in all likelihood mistaken, says a Manitoba-based medical professional.
Recently, Ohio resident Jolene Gonzales claimed that she contracted Lyme disease from her husband who had been infected with the disease in 2007.
Gonzales told Steinbach Online that 13 different doctors had diagnosed her husband with various ailments, including mono, multiple sclerosis, and even having a brain tumour before they could finally pin it down to Lyme disease. Gonzales says her husband was even sent to see a psychologist because some thought the issues were not physical. She claimed she then contracted Lyme Disease from her husband through sexual activity.
But Shelley Buchan, a Medical Officer of Health for Southern Health in Manitoba says this is a self-misdiagnosis.
“For sexual transmission, we don’t have any evidence for that,” she said recently. “When people don’t recognize that they’ve had a tick bite and they’re wondering where did they get the infection from, they need to understand that other forms of the tick, which are much different in size, can actually pass the infection on. We don’t have any evidence of person-to-person transmission but we do know that, if you have ticks in the environment and one person is exposed, the potential is that the rest of the family members can also be exposed but with smaller forms of the tick.”
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports what Dr. Buchan has to say on its Lyme disease FAQ page and states that after continuous testing to see if the disease could in fact be passed sexually, all tests have come back negative.
Named for its discovery in the town of Lyme, Connecticut in the 1970s, Lyme Disease is notoriously hard to diagnose and left untreated can cause serious damage to the nervous system, liver, heart or joints. Early stage Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but there is no vaccine against it.
Experts say the best way to avoid contracting Lyme disease from a tick is to wear closed-toe shoes, use an insect repellent with DEET, and avoid thick brush and grass. One advantage is that ticks can take a long time to begin feeding after attaching themselves to a human host, and so a scan for them after coming in from the outdoors can often prevent a world of hurt.
“As time goes on and as people become more aware of the diseases that come from ticks, this information is becoming more established among health care providers and the public,” adds Dr. Buchan of the case.
The National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCCID) says that Lyme disease has been regularly reported since the early 1980’s. It also has probable cause to believe that the likelihood of a host contracting Lyme disease drastically increases with relation to the time the tick is attached to the skin.
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