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Borrelia Burgdorferi


The American Journal of Psychiatry features different articles that are related to psychiatry and mental health in general. In the year 1994, a special article on Lyme disease and microbiology of Borrelia burgdorferi featured in this journal. This was important because Lyme disease is a psychiatric illness and little is known about it. Additionally, the microbiology of its causative agent is crucial as it is the reason behind the difficulty in diagnosing this disease.

The main aim of this article was to shed light on the question of why Lyme disease is unmanageable and particularly hard to diagnose. This disease is different from other neural illnesses, especially regarding its response to antibiotics and the influence on the body’s immune system. Despite the difficulty related to explaining the challenges above, the biology of this microorganism explains in detail many of these issues (Kansky, 1992).

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Summary of the Main Research Presented Article

The central characteristic of this microorganism relates to its introduction into the body as well as to the rate of replication and colonization. The specific causative agent of Lyme disease is the bacterium spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. The characteristic of this bacterium that is different from the other is its exceedingly long replication period. This makes testing for it and the diagnosis of Lyme disease be particularly hard. In addition, this bacterium is known to rapidly transit throughout the body over a very short time. In about one week, this microorganism moves throughout the central nervous system. Therefore, it takes a considerably long time before their population saturates the whole nervous system and reaches a detectible threshold. Over the same time, it spreads rapidly damaging the entire nervous system.

In the body, these cells are known to be neutrophilic. They move to glial cells and cannot move to cerebrospinal liquid. This microorganism is similar to the bacterium Treponema pallidum, which stays latent for a long time in the body without causing any symptoms. Borrelia burgdorferi has an asymptomatic phase of approximately 30 days. This happens as bacterial populations multiply slowly before they can attain density that can cause symptoms. Its ability to stay for long without symptoms helps the disease ‘hide’ in the body. This allows it to spread well without being interrupted by antibiotics or other control measures. This allows Lyme disease to progress considerably before it can be controlled.

Borrelia burgdorferi is also genetically different from other bacteria. The first difference is the fundamental difference in the DNA that exists in every living creature. However, most of the genetic information in this bacterium is found in the plasmid. This is the second and most crucial disparity. This is a significant characteristic, which allows it to have a considerable amount of variability. This is the grounds for a large variability in the appearance and formation of surface antigens, which leads to more variation with regard to immune response among various individuals in these species.

The article notes that variations above lead to resistance of this bacterium to the immune system of the body. The variation causes ‘confusion’ in the immunologic response. For instance, the antibodies that are produced by the body in response to Borrelia burgdorferi become ineffective. This leads to the failure of body phagocytes to carry out phagocytosis on these microorganisms. This also makes Borrelia burgdorferi continuously increase in number causing serious harm to the host. Similarly, their variation has marked consequences during laboratory testing (The American Journal of Tropical Medicine, 2002).

In many cases, this bacterium can go undetected. Its effects on testing kits and testing procedures are exceptionally varied. It happens that negative status is assumed when the test shows colors or characteristics that cannot be accounted for. This has made the test for Lyme disease extremely complicated.

Another characteristic of Borrelia burgdorferi is its ability to change continuously. Apart from the variation discussed above, this bacterium is continuously changing. This has puzzled scientists who have been trying to explain this phenomenon for years. This article discusses how an explanation of this crucial question was found. The explanation is based on the fact that Borrelia burgdorferi is able to hide in the central nervous system (CNS). Once hidden, numerous changes happen.

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These changes are explained using animal research. Animal research was conducted to find the effects of this process in which Borrelia burgdorferi hides in CNS. This research found out that this hiding resulted in a new strain, which was genetically different from the bacterium that did not hide in the central nervous system (peripheral). This difference is very significant. The article states that this explains the difference in the appearance of Lyme diseases that occur in the US and those occurring in Europe.

For instance, in Europe, there is no direct relationship between Lyme disease and arthritis. Additionally, only a small portion of people who have Lyme disease suffer from arthritis. However, people with Lyme disease in Europe have problems with their cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Additionally, a large portion of these people suffers from abnormal cerebrospinal fluid. On the other hand, people with neurologic Lyme disease in the US do not have problems with their cerebrospinal fluid.

Another crucial aspect of Borrelia burgdorferi that the article talks about are the symptoms, the test, and factors that testing specialists should look for. Additionally, this article provides further details about the biology behind observations made. For instance, research shows that this bacterium produces some membrane-like materials (blebs), which appear on its surface as it grows. These have been found to cover the bacterium. Blebs are observed in the host's urine, in the serum, and also in CFS. Closer observation has shown that immunoglobulin M (IgM) molecules interact with the blebs. Some researchers argue that blebs cover antibodies (IgM) for detecting foreign materials, which make Borrelia burgdorferi circulate in the blood without being noticed. Furthermore, some researchers propose that blebs are mitogens and cause unnecessary stimulus in the immune structure making it ineffective against Borrelia burgdorferi.

The factors stated above made Borrelia burgdorferi a microorganism, which is hard to deal with. Its trickery against immune surveillance is devastating to patients. Additionally, this bacterium is able to remain in the body despite the heavy treatment with antibiotics. This has been demonstrated even when such tests are done in vitro (Malovrh, 2002). Despite the effective immune systems, these parasites exist in human connective tissue, in mice’ macrophages, and human endothelium. This article highlights the difficulty in the control of this disease due to the complex biology of this parasite.

First, Borrelia burgdorferi is able to get into the body and spread fast before the body detects it. Secondly, it is able to dupe the immune system by corrupting and compromising the same systems that are supposed to destroy it. This makes it a hard disease for the body to manage. Additionally, the complexity of controlling this disease is increased by the fact that it has a high ability to undergo variation, which also makes it exceptionally hard for laboratory testing.

Management of the disease cycle is also complicated by the microbiology of this parasite in a profound way. This is because it is very hard to control it in the secondary host. In this sense, it is not possible to reduce the amount of inoculum that is available for infecting human beings.

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Personal Response to Article

This article is very important for people taking different courses in the medical profession. For people taking human medicine, one will be able to understand more about this disease, starting from infection to treatment. This can also be important to pharmacists as they will understand how to respond to it using chemicals. Moreover, students of medicine who are training to become doctors in the future will find this article to be very important. This is because it unravels everything about Lyme disease in a very elaborate way. Through this article, clinical officers and even medical lab technicians will be unable to bypass some challenges encountered by people testing for this illness.

The reason for choosing this article is its ability to expound issues concerning Lyme disease. Many authors who attempted to explore Borrelia burgdorferi ended up being biased on one side. Some of them over-expounded on the biology of the microorganism without linking it to the disease in the cause. Others stated facts but did not explain them adequately to people who are young in the medical profession. However, this article makes the biology of Borrelia burgdorferi be palatable to all classes of people.

The article is generally good as seen above. It can be useful for many people and is also easy to read and understand. Additionally, the biology of Borrelia burgdorferi as well as the disease it causes can be well understood by reading the article. Additionally, the relationship between this parasite and the characteristics of the disease can also be well understood.

In conclusion, this article has its limitation in that it does not discuss the treatment of Lyme disease. It is not clear from the article which chemical can destroy Borrelia burgdorferi. Further, control of this disease has neither been stated nor discussed. Finally, this disease has no cure, thus this article should have explained how to live with it may be by suppressing Borrelia burgdorferi.

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