By David A. Jernigan, BNutr, DNM, DC
Treatment-resistant, chronic and apparent relapsing Lyme disease (borreliosis), with its oft associated co-infections which worsen the illness, though once debated, is now well-documented in the scientific literature. Chronic Lyme disease has reached the true status of a global pandemic, though largely unappreciated by the media and mainstream medicine.
Diagnostic lab testing for the Borrelia spirochete of Lyme disease has had limited success, most types of conventional tests having high false-negative results, with as little as 30% sensitivity, meaning as much as 70% of people tested, actually have the infection, but never get treatment due to their lab test coming back negative. These people fall between the cracks of medicine as their body and lives fall apart as doctors do not know what is wrong with them, assuming the tests were correct. (See Fig. 1)
The painful reality is that conventional labs which are not focused solely on testing for Lyme disease, often are not as diligent in their testing, not getting paid more to find the bacteria or not, and seeming to forget that there is a real and desperate person at the other end of the blood test. Unfortunately beyond this, the medico-political environment regarding the existence of chronic Lyme disease also gets in the way of getting many, if not most conventional physicians to order the test, even at the pleading of their patients.
In 2019 a new, highly sensitive test (See Fig. 1 Phage Test) was developed by the University of Leicester, in England, and performed by the R.E.D Laboratory, for the diagnosis of Borrelia infections. This test is so sensitive and the testing process so rigorous, that the test is nearing 100% accurate, at >80% sensitivity to detecting not just the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi, but all of the 20 types of Borrelia that can cause tick-borne and vector-borne illness. This test is call the Phelix Borrelia-Phage Test, and is such a breath of fresh air in that the test results come back not with encrypted, hard to determine bands, as in Lyme Western Blot tests, but instead clearly state, Positive or Negative and the exact type of Borrelia infection or multiple types of Borrelia strains that you have, without needing your doctor to interpret the results. Doctors in the United States or any other country can order this test.
Testing from Many States
Armed with this latest and most sensitive Borrelia test, we undertook a retrospective study of 27 people from 16 different states (see Fig. 2) to achieve a wide view of what types of Borrelia infections people actually had in the different parts of the country. The results were unexpected, as you will see in the graphs and figures in this article. The expectation was that people with chronic Lyme disease, especially in the U.S., would be infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the reality was that in the group of 27 people positive for Borrelia, only one person had the B. burgdorferi.
Results of 27 People with Positive Borrelia-Phage Tests
As seen in Fig. 3 below, many people had one or multiple strains of Borrelia. The vast majority, 52% (14 people) had Borrelia miyamotoi, followed by 42% (11 people) having Borrelia strains that fall under the category of Relapsing Fever group. Relapsing Fever group is illness from one or more of the following strains of Borrelia, B. hermsii, B. recurrentis, B. crocidurae, B. duttonii. After the Relapsing Fever group, 19% (5 people) had Borrelia hermsii, and only one person in the group had B. burgdorferi.
The implications of this review are that Borrelia burgdorferi is likely not the primary culprit in many cases of chronic Lyme disease in some parts of the United States as was previously thought. Any lab test that is focusing only upon B. burgdorferi, will likely miss the true diagnosis. The Phelix Borrelia-Phage test is just one of a new breed of phage-based lab tests that will likely become the gold-standard of all bacterial testing. It would be advisable for anyone who suspects that they have or had Lyme disease, yet have either been told they are negative, or who have lingering symptoms to be tested again with the Phelix test.
Our view of what symptoms are typical of classic Lyme disease, based upon the B. burgdorferi model, needs to be expanded to include the symptoms that are unique to the other strains of Borrelia, as their presentation can be quite different, as well as their vectors not being always a tick.
Treatments for B. burgdorferi, should be expanded to include the actual type or multiple types of Borrelia actually infecting a person. Although antibiotics, which can be likened to carpet-bombing, killing many bad bacteria, the Borrelia can and possibly does mutate, losing some of its aspects that make it vulnerable to the antibiotics, not to mention the fact that antibiotics are notorious damaging to the friendly flora of the body, and cause prolonged and severe suffering through Jarische-Herxheimer reactions (Herx). A new Borrelia-phage-based targeted treatment has been developed that has been documented by repeated Phelix Borrelia-Phage testing, to rapidly eliminate only the types of Borrelia a person has been found positive, with no harm to the body, with minimal Herx reactions, and no harm to good bacteria.
Ruling out False-Positives and False-Negatives with Phelix Borrelia-Phage Testing
The Phelix Borrelia-Phage test is the premier, newest, most sensitive Borrelia lab test available. The Phelix test is statistically the most accurate test, as each blood sample undergoes quadruplicate real-time PCR tests for 3 different targets (B. burgdorferi sl, B. miyamotoi, Relapsing fever) for a total of 12 assessments. All positive-like samples are submitted to confirmatory sequencing to rule out false positive results. Before the Phage real-time PCRs, each sample is submitted to 2 rounds of QC to rule out false-negative results that would relate to the technical flaws: (i) to assess the quality of extracted DNA by performing low cycles actin PCR, and (ii) to assess the absence of PCR inhibitors by doing a real-time PCR for IAC (internal amplification control).