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Lyme Disease and Syphilis

Lyme Disease and Syphilis

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called a spirochete, closely related to the spirochete that causes syphilis.

Both diseases:

  • Are treated with antibiotics.

  • Have similar symptoms.

  • Have an early stage and a late stage.

  • Can cause arthritis, movement disorders, psychiatric illness, heart problems, and blindness.

  • Are called “the great imitator” because they imitate many other diseases.

  • Cause a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction when treatment begins.

  • Can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, and children born with the illness.

What is a Herxheimer reaction (herx)?

Dr. Adolph Jarisch and Dr. Karl Herxheimer first discovered this reaction in syphilis patients.

A Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction is...
  • Common when Lyme patients begin antibiotics.

  • Often called a “Herx.”

  • A temporary worsening of symptoms.

  • Caused by dying bacteria.

  • Can last several days or longer.

Symptoms can include:
  • Severe headache

  • Profound fatigue

  • Insomnia

  • Depression

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Increased pain

  • Heart problems

  • Exacerbation of  previous symptoms

  • New symptoms


If symptoms are severe or life-threatening, doctors  may stop treatment and resume it later.

Doctors may resume treatment with a lower dose and gradually increase it.

Supplements and vitamins can boost the immune  system and also cause a Herx.

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