Can Lyme Disease Be Transmitted From One Person to Another?

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Can Lyme disease transmit from one person to another?

Check out this answer from Consensus:

Currently, the primary and well-established mode of transmission for Lyme disease is through the bite of infected ticks. While there is some speculative evidence suggesting the possibility of sexual transmission, it remains unproven and requires further investigation. The focus should remain on preventing tick bites and promptly treating tick-borne infections to mitigate the spread and impact of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease, caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, is primarily known as a tick-borne illness. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks, commonly known as deer ticks. However, there has been ongoing speculation and investigation into whether Lyme disease can be transmitted from one person to another through other means, such as sexual contact. This article explores the current understanding and evidence regarding the potential for human-to-human transmission of Lyme disease.

Tick-Borne Transmission

The primary mode of transmission for Lyme disease is through the bite of infected ticks. In North America, the main vector is the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), while in Europe, it is primarily transmitted by Ixodes ricinus ticks. The spirochete B. burgdorferi is maintained in enzootic cycles involving various reservoir hosts, such as mice and woodrats, and is transmitted to humans when an infected tick bites and deposits the bacteria into the skin .

Sexual Transmission: A Speculative Possibility

The possibility of sexual transmission of Lyme disease has been a topic of interest and debate. Some researchers have explored clinical, epidemiological, and experimental evidence to determine if intimate human contact could facilitate the transmission of B. burgdorferi. Although the likelihood of sexual transmission remains speculative, it is suggested that further studies are needed to fully understand this potential mode of transmission.

Evidence and Studies

Several studies have investigated the potential for sexual transmission of Lyme disease. For instance, one study explored the presence of B. burgdorferi in the genital secretions of infected individuals and found that the spirochete could be detected in semen and vaginal secretions. However, the study concluded that while the presence of the bacteria in genital secretions is intriguing, it does not provide definitive evidence of sexual transmission.

 

 

Can Lyme disease be transmitted from one person to another?

Sarah Randolph has answered Extremely Unlikely

An expert from Oxford University in Ecology, Epidemiology

The spirochetes that cause Lyme disease can only be transmitted by a bite from an infected tick. These bacteria undergo essential biological development while within the tick vector to make them transmissible to vertebrate hosts (including humans). It is also extremely unlikely, never been demonstrated, that blood transfusions could carry these spirochaetes because they do not reside in the blood of their hosts.

 

Can Lyme disease be transmitted from one person to another?

Alan Barbour has answered Extremely Unlikely

An expert from University of California, Irvine in Microbiology, Medicine

Borreliella (Borrelia) burgdorferi is almost always transmitted to a person by the bite of a certain type of tick that is embedded in the skin. The bacteria may circulate in the blood for several days during early stage of infection in some people. And it is conceivable that a blood transfusion during this period can result in transmission, but this has not been documented in my opinion. I have not seen convincing evidence yet that sexual transmission through seminal fluid or vaginal fluid can occur. If two members of a household get Lyme disease, it is much more likely the consequence of a shared exposure to ticks than from direct transmission from one to another.

 

Can Lyme disease be transmitted from one person to another?

Alvaro Toledo has answered Extremely Unlikely

An expert from Rutgers University in Entomology

The causative agent of Lyme disease is the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted by the bite of infected ticks. In the east coast of the United States the tick vector is Ixodes scapularis, whereas in the Pacific coast Ixodes pacificus vectors the disease. 

Infected ticks must feed on the host for 36-48 hours to transmit the bacterium. This is not uncommon since nymphs which are less than 2mm are hard to see and are active during the spring and early summer. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease but they are easier to spot and do not became active until the fall. 

Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease. Thus, there are no other natural routes for transmission. 

  1. Lyme disease cannot be transmitted by direct contact from person to person.
  2. There are some reports that suggest that Lyme disease acquired during pregnancy lead to the infection of the placenta but its relation with stillbirth is unlikely. Nonetheless, no negative effects on the fetus have been found in patients treated with an appropriated antibiotic therapy. 
  3. There are no reports of transmission through blood transfusions. Patients who were diagnosed with Lyme disease can donate blood 30 days after completing an appropriate antibiotic treatment. 
  4. Lyme disease cannot be transmitted by air, food, water, or by other vectors including mosquitoes, lice, and other tick species such as the lone star tick or the dog tick. 

 

Can Lyme disease be transmitted from one person to another?

Jesse Brunner has answered Extremely Unlikely

An expert from Washington State University in Ecology

It is difficult to prove an absence but based on available evidence (epidemiological, details of Borrelia’s biology) it seems very unlikely that the Lyme disease bacterium can be sexually transmitted and if it does occur, very rare. It is worth noting that the presence of the bacterium in a particular tissue or fluid is not sufficient to claim that the bacterium is transmitted from it.

 

Can Lyme disease be transmitted from one person to another?

Maxime Jacquet has answered Unlikely

An expert from University of Pennsylvania in Parasitology, Immunology, Molecular Biology

Presence of live spirochetes in the semen or vaginal secretion of infected patients does not mean that sexual transmission of Borrelia is possible.

 

Can Lyme disease be transmitted from one person to another?

Scott Samuels has answered Extremely Unlikely

An expert from University of Montana in Microbiology

The scientific consensus, supported by the preponderance, if not the entirety, of evidence, is that Borrelia (Borreliella) burgdorferi is only transmitted by a feeding Ixodes tick and, therefore, Lyme disease can only be transmitted by ticks. Spirochetes in semen or vaginal secretions (if, indeed, they are actually live B. burgdorferi) are not likely to be able to establish an infection.

 

Can Lyme disease be transmitted from one person to another?

Paul Fawcett has answered Unlikely

An expert from Nemours in Biochemistry, Immunology

Brief answer , probably only by a blood transfusion although there have been a few reports of maternal transmission during pregnancy . I am not aware of any casual or intimate contact resulting in human to human transmission

 

Can Lyme disease be transmitted from one person to another?

John Scott has answered Likely

An expert from Lyme Ontario in Parasitology

Yes,Borrelia burgdorfericrosses the placenta. It is also transmitted through the breast milk. It is in semen and vaginal secretions, so it is evident that it can be transmitted sexually (Middelveen et al. 2018). These researchers definitively prove persistence after antibiotic treatment.

See also: Middelveen et al. (2018) is: doi:10.3390/healthcare6020033

 

Can Lyme disease be transmitted from one person to another?

Andrew Dobson has answered Unlikely

An expert from Princeton University in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology

Although may be possible by blood transfusion, although these are routinely checked for Lyme spirochaetes

 

Can Lyme disease be transmitted from one person to another?

Noémie Becker has answered Extremely Unlikely

An expert from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Evolutionary Biology, Population Biology

Lyme disease is caused by tick-borne bacteria of the genus Borrelia. These bacteria need their tick vectors to be transmitted to new hosts (human or not).

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