Stanford study finds Lyme disease widespread in Bay Area


By Chris Cooney | Bay City News Service

Lyme disease is more widespread in Bay Area open spaces than previously thought, according to a new study released Thursday by Stanford University researchers.

The study was funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, started by concerned citizens in Portola Valley and Woodside after several residents came down with the disease, but did not have it appropriately diagnosed for months.

"Lyme disease is widespread throughout the Bay Area," according to Dan Salkeld, a disease ecologist at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. "We found it in every single (test) open space, and every type of terrain."

The study, called "Tick-borne Pathogens in Northwestern California," also revealed that Bay Area ticks carry a second bacteria, previously undetected in the region, that can bring on flu-like symptoms in infected humans, such as relapsing fever and severe aches and pains. "It had been seen before in a couple of places around the Northwest, but we had no idea it was in California," Salkeld said.

The two strains of bacteria were found by researchers who fanned out into 12 open space preserves in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties and dragged big white blankets through woodlands, grasslands and chaparral environments, collecting ticks that stuck to the material, Salkeld said.

Lyme disease and the second pathogen -- Borrelia miyamotoi -- were detected in around 2 percent of ticks that stuck to the white blankets, Salkeld said.

While the pathogens were detected in a far lower percentage than in the Northeastern U.S., where around 35 percent of ticks are carriers, it was still a higher result than many people expected to find in the Northwest.

"A lot of people think you just can't get Lyme disease in California," Salkeld said. "It's often under the radar, so sometimes it takes a really long time for the disease to be diagnosed."

If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause severe rashes, fever, joint pain, and debilitating arthritis, Salkeld said.


For Bay Area residents who take advantage of the vast array of parks, trails and open spaces in the region, some simple precautions can be taken to avoid being bitten by ticks and potentially infected with Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses.

Hikers, walkers and bikers should try to stay in the middle of trails, avoiding brush, woodpiles and logs, Salkeld said. After spending time outdoors, residents should check themselves thoroughly for ticks, especially their hair.

Pets should also be thoroughly checked for ticks after a walk in the woods.

Anyone who develops symptoms -- fever, headaches, rashes or fatigue -- should consult a doctor familiar with Lyme.


Like this comment
Posted by Patricia Arthur
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

My daughter contacted Lyme Disease about 12 years ago and was told everything from being crazy-delusional .A doctor at Menlo Medical told her because she had injections that HE gave her for the agonizing migraines which is the first sign of Lyme that she was a drug addict. She was admitted to Stanford Hospital where they said there was no such thing as Lyme here. Incompetence and ignorance are NOT a great combination. If it was not for Dr. Christine Green(who left PA medical group and started her own Lyme clinic) my daughter would be dead. She suffered for over 10 years. She got the tick bite in Woodside while doing a landscapeing job.There was no bullseye to give a clue. Glad the light now shines on this horrible disease.

Like this comment
Posted by ben hatfield
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Thank you for this valuable info. I have lived in Emerald Hills and in Portola Valley and did not know they were in those areas. I now live in Cool Ca. about 7 miles from Auburn Ca. and have been bitten several times from ticks that my dogs brought in the house. I am now discovering a new very small type of tick that is all over here in this area. I brought the ticks that had bitten me and the dog into have it tested in the lab in Auburn and it was not that species that carries Lymes. now I have to be extra careful about checking for ticks always. Thank You, Ben Hatfield

Like this comment
Posted by ben Hatfield
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:48 pm

hello, I just posted something about our area in Cool Ca. 7 miles from Auburn. Our community is now discovering a new tick, very small, black in color that my black lab has been bringing into the house. I had been bitten by ticks over the years and had them tested, the ones I could keep alive to do the test. They were not the species that contracted the disease. The new little black tick has bitten me about 4 months ago and was very painful on my chest. I did not have that tested.
What are the symptoms of Lymes disease? Please contact me at I would like to know as my health has changed lately. Thank you Ben Hatfield

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Ms. Arthur - I am so sorry to read your comment, but greatly relieved that your daughter was helped - and by Dr. Green no less. This area is lucky to have her.

About 20 years ago, a medical professional in my family predicted that we'd be seeing Lyme here in Calif., and sadly, she was correct.

Like this comment
Posted by DonZ
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Feb 20, 2014 at 4:28 am

Lyme disease is normally considered to be a Borrielia infection but among the co-infections is Bartonella. Borrielia is much easier to treat without the presence of Bart. Bart is the real culprit and what is not known is that Bart cause angiogenic tumors in your blood vessels which the bacteria use to hide from treatment. Not very many LLMD's are successful at treating Bart.

Everything explained here and how to treat presented as free info.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Laura
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2014 at 8:47 am

I am a 76 year old woman who has had lyme for over 23 years. I contracted it in the Mendocino area. After
visits to 5 doctors in the bay area who could not diagnose what was wrong (knee pain, breathing, fatigue), a blood test from GenX labs - and Dr. Green - diagnosed me with 3rd degree lyme. After being on an antibiotic for 13 years (which helped a little), I found help from the Sierra Integrative Medical Center in Reno, NV, This place had folks from all over the United States (and some out of the country) who could not find help with their lyme anywhere else. I haven't had an antibiotic now for 10 years -take helpful natural supplements and am doing better than ever.

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