Free course on treatment strategies for long haul COVID and Lyme patients

A Dublin-based infectious disease doctor who’s treated both long COVID and chronic Lyme patients shares new research and treatment strategies for managing patients with these complex conditions, in a new continuing medical education course sponsored by Invisible International and the Montecalvo Foundation.

The course instructor is Jack Lambert, MD, PhD, a Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Mater and Rotunda hospitals, and University College of Dublin School of Medicine in Dublin, Ireland, as well as the founder of the Lyme Resource Centre in Scotland.

Dr. Lambert is also the lead author on an early, COVID-19 patient study that analyzed 155 COVID-19 patients over a year, to identify predictors and probabilities of developing post-COVID-19 syndrome. This was one of the first studies to identify severe brain-related issues, including brain fog, head pressure, sleep disturbance, memory problems, exhaustion, personality changes, and a whole host of symptoms related to inflamed nerves.

“There are clear similarities between the clinical manifestations seen in Long COVID and Long Lyme,” said Dr. Lambert.

Among the more interesting findings of the study was the prevalence of the mental health conditions associated with Long COVID:

  • 18.3% had moderate-to-severe signs of depression one year after infection
  • 13% had moderate-to-severe signs of anxiety at one year
  • 21% had findings consistent with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • 72% had concerning alcohol use after a year

These issues are also common among chronic Lyme patients, and for both cohorts, his most passionate plea to front-line physicians is this: “When you conduct a series of tests and find nothing wrong, don’t start prescribing psychiatric medications, suggesting that patients are just anxious, or are having trouble coping, or are having family issues that are driving their symptoms. These patients are suffering from real, inflammation-driven conditions, and we need to start by addressing these first.”

Dr. Lambert’s most important advice to medical clinics treating Long COVID and Lyme is to establish a case management process to help these very ill patients coordinate specialist visits and treatment protocols.

“Both COVID and Lyme disease can affect multiple organ systems, so case management should simultaneously address persistent infection, a deranged and disrupted immune system, and neuro-inflammation,” he said.

He admits that setting up a case management process can be challenging, even in a country like Ireland, with its free, government-sponsored health plan: “Care is fragmented, and patients are sent by their general practitioners to specialist after specialist—gastroenterology, cardiology, rheumatology, and so on. We need to do a better job of connecting and coordinating these specialists.”

As for treatment protocols, he recommends that clinicians use standard therapeutics to suppress the cascade of inflammation triggered by long COVID and to aggressively test and treat for the reactivation viruses that commonly occurs during COVID infections. He also presents study results on the use of low dose Naltrexone for symptom reduction.

This free Continuing Medical Education (CME) is brought to you by the Invisible Education Initiative and the Montecalvo Foundation. Accreditation is in-process.

Take the course here: https://learn.invisible.international/courses/long-lyme-co-infections-and-long-covid/

Five simple ways to save someone from developing chronic Lyme disease

Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.
—Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Yerushalmi Talmud 4:9

Anyone who has lived through a serious case of Lyme disease has probably experienced true despair and hopelessness. In the eyes of the medical system, you are invisible. Your case probably wasn’t sent to the CDC’s broken disease reporting system. The record of your suffering may not be acknowledged in the electronic medical records, because there were no diagnostic codes for chronic Lyme or its complications until January 2022. And finally, the “official” sources for Lyme disease information still say that the disease is easy to diagnosis, treat, and cure—the ultimate insult to those who have personally experienced the opposite.

Invisible International’s team is dedicated to righting these wrongs, by delivering the best diagnostic and treatment evidence to the frontlines of medical care. As we learn how to break through the walls of ignorance, we humbly offer up some ideas on how individuals can save lives from the plague of chronic Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.

Make your case count

Enter your Lyme story into the MyLymeData patient registry and research platform. LymeDisease.org’s survey tool tracks patient progress over time. By analyzing large amounts of patient data, researchers can see patterns that help identify gaps in care and treatments that work best.

Share our education courses with physicians

Invisible currently offers 25+ accredited medical education courses on tick- and vector-borne diseases, free to all. The courses cover important topics, such as neurological manifestations of Lyme, new evidence for persistent Lyme, and best practices for treating patients. Watch our medical education courses here and share them with physicians.

Distribute prevention resources to your community

PA Lyme offers a set of tick-bite prevention resources that can be shared with local schools, churches, and camps. Its “Dare 2B Tick Aware” program includes free webinars, educational flyers, and info on tick protection and testing.

Forward our newsletter to friends and family

Invisible’s newsletter delivers a steady stream of information on emerging research, promising treatments, new educational courses, and ways you can help others who’ve been bitten seek prompt, effective treatment.

Donate to our physician education program

One of Invisible’s top priorities is to integrate the Montecalvo physician education platform into the medical school curriculums in the U.S. and abroad. All donations, big or small, will help us make sure that the next generation of physicians learn about the latest strategies for preventing serious tick-borne disease complications and how to get patients better faster.

To read more about Invisible’s medical education, research, and community empowerment programs, visit https://invisible.international

Tulane researcher asks, “Could chronic Lyme contribute to Alzheimer’s dementia?”

In 2019, the late-great-science-writer Sharon Begley wrote an insightful article, “The maddening saga of how an Alzheimer’s ‘cabal’ thwarted progress toward a cure for decades.”

Begley’s reporting described how a powerful group of researchers became fixated on one theory of Alzheimer’s causation at the expense of all others. Their hypothesis: that Alzheimer’s cognitive decline was caused by neuron-killing, beta-amyloid protein clumps in the brain, and that if you dissolved the clumps, the disease process would stop.

As this theory hit a brick wall, Begley showed how the actions of the cabal harmed patients: “…for decades, believers in the dominant hypothesis suppressed research on alternative ideas: They influenced what studies got published in top journals, which scientists got funded, who got tenure, and who got speaking slots at reputation-buffing scientific conferences.”

Decades later, with no cure or effective drugs for Alzheimer’s dementia, some researchers are gathering evidence on a different causation theory — that dementia could be triggered by any number of chronic infectious diseases, and that amyloid plaques are a byproduct of an active infection, not the cause.

One of these researchers is Monica Embers, PhD, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the Tulane National Primate Research Center. She’s also the leading expert in identifying treatments that can eradicate Lyme bacteria infections in nonhuman primates, our closest mammalian relatives. In her new continuing medical education course, “Chronic Infection and the Etiology of Dementia,” she lays out the evidence that the Lyme bacteria could be one possible cause of dementia.

Her theory is this: When pathogens like the Lyme bacteria sneak past the blood-brain barrier, the immune system doesn’t allow protective killer cells from the entering the inflexible brain cavity, because resulting brain inflammation and swelling could lead to death. Instead, it encapsulates invading microbes with protein clumps, called beta-amyloid plaques or Lewy bodies, to stop the infection. As a person ages, the bodily processes that clean up this “brain gunk” slows, resulting in protein accumulation that impedes brain signaling and kills neurons.

In her 31-minute course, Dr. Embers describes the clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia, the impact on public health, genetic risks, and the list of infections associated with dementia-like symptoms.

The course also reviews a well-documented case study about a 54-year-old woman who was treated for the Lyme bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi), developed dementia, then died 15 years after the initial infection. After death, B. burgdorferi was identified by PCR (DNA detection) in her brain and central nervous system (CNS) tissues, and by immunofluorescent staining of the bacteria in the spinal cord. (For more, read this peer-reviewed study.)

Dr. Embers and her study’s co-authors conclude, “These studies offer proof of the principle that persistent infection with the Lyme disease spirochete may have lingering consequences on the CNS. Published in postmortem brain autopsy images and extensive pathology tests are a compelling reason to pursue this line of scientific inquiry.”

You can watch this free CME here

To help us launch our CME curriculum in hospitals and medical schools, donate here.

Invisible International’s Education Platform for Tick-borne Illness is funded by the Montecalvo Family Foundation. This platform currently offers 24 free, online Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses on the diagnostics, epidemiology, immunology, symptoms, and treatment of Lyme disease, Bartonellosis, and other vector-borne diseases. 

Free online medical education course on early Lyme disease

Three patient case studies guide physicians on how to diagnose and treat early Lyme disease. This online course summarizes the latest research on disease risk, symptoms, and treatment options.

Diagnosing early Lyme disease cases can be notoriously difficult. Initial symptoms mimic those of the flu or Covid-19 — fever, chills, headache, and aches. The recommended antibody testing isn’t reliable in the first month. And many of those infected by a tick never see the tick or the most helpful diagnostic sign — an expanding erythema migrans rash at the bite site.

In the meantime, it’s more important than ever for physicians to keep up with clinically relevant information that will enhance their Lyme disease diagnostic and case management skills. Lyme disease is the fastest vector-borne illness in the United States, with an estimated 476,000 new cases a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Approximately 10 to 20% of those treated with antibiotics go on to experience disabling long-haul symptoms, such as severe fatigue, joint/muscle pain, brain fog, and neurologic symptoms. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of early Lyme disease results in better outcomes.

Case studies in early Lyme disease” is an online continuing medical education course that discusses disease risk in geographic regions, Lyme disease rashes, NIH-funded treatment trials, the basics on how Lyme bacteria evade the immune system, and the pros and cons of various patient treatment options. Participants’ diagnostic skills are tested with three real-life patient case studies. This course has been approved for 1.0 CME credit by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Elizabeth L. Maloney, MD, the course’s author, is a Minnesota family physician focused on tick-borne disease education and policy. She is also the education director of Invisible International; the founder/president of the Partnership for Tick-borne Diseases Education; a former subcommittee member of the HHS Tick-borne Diseases Working group; and a peer reviewer for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

This project was funded by the Montecalvo Platform for Tick-Borne Illness Education, through Invisible International, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation dedicated to reducing the suffering associated with invisible illnesses and social marginalization through innovation, education, and data-driven change projects. You can sign up to receive news and updates at https://invisible.international/newsletter

Other related courses: Basic principles of diagnostic testing, 7 years of blood-based Lyme disease testing, Serologic testing in Lyme disease.

Image credit: Tricia Shears 2009, Lyme rash on a 5-yr-old

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