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Could Lyme Disease be the newest STD? Scientists say so.

The latest sexually transmitted disease (STD) may start with a tick bite – at least, in certain cases. A team of medical researchers may have linked Lyme Disease, generally tagged a tick-borne infection, to unprotected intimate physical relations between humans. Lyme Disease may join the ranks of such STDs as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and syphilis.

The latest sexually transmitted disease (STD) may start with a tick bite – at least, in certain cases.
Lyme Disease Rash by Hannah Garrison - Creative Commons Licensing

According to the study, published in the January issue of the Journal of Investigative Medicine, the bacteria causing Lyme Disease actually bears a resemblance to syphilis, which has a similar corkscrew-like structure. Researchers believe the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria of Lyme Disease may be shared in intimate male and female secretions, as well as by infected tick bites.

“The presence of the Lyme spirochete in genital secretions and identical strains in married couples strongly suggests that sexual transmission of the disease occurs,” said Dr. Peter Mayne. an Australian dermatologist and study team member.

“There is always some risk of getting Lyme disease from a tick bite in the woods,” added American physician and fellow researcher Raphael Stricker. “But there may be a bigger risk of getting Lyme disease in the bedroom.”

“Our findings will change the way Lyme disease is viewed by doctors and patients,” said Marianne Middelveen, lead author of the study results. “It explains why the disease is more common than one would think if only ticks were involved in transmission.”

The recent Lyme Disease research team presented their findings in late January at the American Federation for Medical Research’s Western Regional Meeting. The study group included experts medical experts representing a variety of specialties and coming from the Australia, Canada, and the U.S.

In 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that Lyme Disease is considerably more prevalent than earlier acknowledged (see video).

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