Does Lyme make you more susceptible to Coronavirus?


*Published in February 2020

We’ve all been impacted by the worldwide pandemic that is COVID-19. What does this mean for those with suppressed immune systems, though?

What is Coronavirus and how worried should Lyme patients be?

Coronavirus is a respiratory virus that usually results in mild symptoms resembling a common cold. However, some cases result in pneumonia and death. 

While the majority of cases do not result in death, the reality is that sometimes it does—and the virus is spreading faster than can be kept up with. As of February 5th, there have only been 12 reported cases of Coronavirus in the US, with other countries also having extremely low numbers of confirmed cases. However, in China, the virus continues to spread.

It also appears that the virus is spread when someone shows symptoms, but this may not be the case every time. (Although the majority of virus spread are from those who showed symptoms)  

As a Lymie, you may want to take these precautions a little more seriously than everyone else. 

How does Lyme affect the immune system/immune response?

Lyme bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi attacking immune systemLymies know that their immune system is weakened when they are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. A weakened immune system leaves the body vulnerable to attack. Those with chronically weak immune systems are likely to get infections more frequently than most other people, and these illnesses might be more severe or harder to treat.

Studies show that Borrelia burgdorferi infection may result in a suppressed immune system which makes long-term immunity from disease unlikely.

Dr. Utpal Pal, Professor in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Maryland (UMD), has been studying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria throughout his 12 years with UMD, and his work has already produced the protein marker used to identify this bacterial infection in the body. Now, Dr. Pal has isolated a protein produced by the bacteria that disables one of the body’s first immune responses, giving insight into mechanisms that are largely not understood.This new research indicates that Lyme bacteria fights innate immune response and how the bacteria can even spring back in the body weeks after treatment. The truth of the matter is that we do not completely understand this pathogen and the implications of pathogens that persist in the body for long periods of time. 

The immune system works when the body realizes there is “bad bacteria” and sends its forces to kill said bacteria. If it doesn’t work, the body comes back to fight again. However, when “this bacteria wins the first battle,  your body overreacts so much that it causes intense inflammation in all the joints and areas that the bacteria spreads by sending so many reinforcements to kill it. Borrelia is then killed, but the inflammation remains and causes many of your symptoms for Lyme disease. That is why killing Borrelia in the first wave of immunity is so important.” Ultimately this research teaches us that there is a protein produced by B. burgdorferi that disables one of the body’s initial immune responses.

In addition to the bacteria spread by ticks, we are learning more about what happens when the tick injects saliva components when it bites. This itself can impair the immune response and can facilitate pathogen invasion in the tissue. 

What are signs of a weak immune system?

High stress levels, constant colds, stomach issues, frequent infections, chronic tiredness, and wounds that are slow to heal are all signs of a weak immune system, according to Penn Medicine

*You’ll probably notice that you have all of these symptoms (plus more), considering Lyme attacks the immune system.

Is Lyme an autoimmune disorder?

A new study suggests that the chronic symptoms many Lyme patients report of may actually be the result of an aut

oimmune disorder. According to Healthline.

This article from Today says, “If you think of the immune system as an army, this non-directed attack could be seen as “friendly fire,” Aucott said. “You don’t want a guy who is shooting in every 

direction because then you can get friendly fire damage.”

What can I do to protect myself?

Seek medical advice if exposed to Lyme disease bacteria

While a lot of it is out of your control, you can make a conscious effort to avoid viruses. Keep out of contact with people who seem to be sick at all—even if it just seems like the common cold. (Also, stay away from utensils used by those who appear sick, as well.) Wash your hands properly and frequently. Wear a mask and avoid being in public places as much as possible. Make sure you are not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Lastly, clean everything! Virus spreading is prevented when you are thorough about cleaning toilets, sinks, appliances, counters, etc.

Ideas for boosting immune system:

While this may seem obvious for Lymies, the best way to bolster the immune system is to simply eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and minimize stress. 

Another good option is to detoxify your body and replenish with antioxidants. Because you don’t actually want to “boost” the number of immune cells in your body, detoxification is key. Your body will no longer be spending its time fighting off other toxins, which subsequently allows your body’s immune system to function optimally.

We hope this article helps you understand the risk that Coronavirus, or any virus for that matter, may pose to your health. Those with Lyme have to work even harder to ensure a strong immune system. Contact a physician immediately if you believe you have the virus.


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