Lyme Disease in Idaho

By Emily Dickerson

Lyme Disease is not endemic in Idaho, but still present and incidence is on the rise. Lyme Disease is the most common tick borne disease in the United States.  It is a bacterial infection caused by the spirochete organism Borrelia burgdorferi. Transmission occurs mostly commonly via tick bites, though other modes of transmission are thought possible, such as sexual transmission. Lyme Disease is mostly carried by the deer tick (species Ixodes Scapularis and Ixodes pacificus) that live on white tail deer, mice, or other small mammals.

Most people affected with Lyme (more than 80%) do not recall a tick bite, so diagnosis and treatment must look at the broader picture. If there is a known deer tick bite, prophylactic antibiotic use is recommended. Initial symptoms of Lyme Disease include a “bullseye” rash or red rash (> 5 cm) that surrounds the site of tick bite. However, many people do not experience a rash, hence diagnosis must be based on other symptoms. The following generalized symptoms of Lyme Disease may present early on and, if not treated, can become chronic: fever, malaise, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, stiff neck, brain fog, fatigue, or other skin lesions. Symptoms that persist for a long time are known as Chronic Lyme Disease.

Testing for Lyme Disease can be challenging based on stage of the infection, test reliability, and cost. Treatment for an infection based on the symptom picture can often be a reasonable option. Co-infections are common and can include other tick-borne illnesses and chronic viral infections. Additional tick-borne illnesses to test for are babesiosis, bartonella, ehrlichia, and rickettsia. Common viral co-infections include chronic Epstein Barr Virus and Cytomegalovirus. Testing for Lyme Disease and co-infections is possible through the lab IGeneX, which specializes in research and testing for Lyme Disease and associated infections.

Treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease has been very difficult to find in the state of Idaho. Many patients travel to surrounding states to seek care. For this reason, Dr. Dickerson and Dr. Haynes have been doing continuing education that focuses on the testing and treatment of chronic Lyme Disease. If there has been a recent known tick bite and symptoms, we support prophylactic antibiotic treatment that can be prescribed by your primary care provider, and can provide naturopathic treatment plans that support your body while you go through conventional treatment. To treat Chronic Lyme Disease, we are using a new treatment protocol that includes antibacterial (to address Lyme and other bacterial co-infections), antiviral (to address viral co-infections), and immune-supportive herbal combinations that help to fight and clear the infection(s). Optimal treatment of Chronic Lyme and co-infections includes a “whole body” approach to overall health, including addressing gut health and adrenal health. There is research behind our new Chronic Lyme protocol seem promising, and we are excited to share it with you!

For more information on Lyme Disease and how to test, we have provided you with the following links:

  • IGenex Labs Website
    • Additional information on the lab that we are using and the testing available
    • igenex.com 

2)  International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society

  • Excellent resource regarding the latest research regarding Lyme, associated infections, and current treatments.
  • ilads.org

To schedule an appointment or a free phone consult, call Boise Natural Health at (208) 338-0405.