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VIDEO

Could a Well-Known Psychological Disorder Be Associated with Lyme Disease?

OCT 29, 2017 | CONTAGION® EDITORIAL STAFF


Silvio Pitlik, MD, visiting scientist, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, explains why he feels Lyme disease can make individuals obsessive.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability):

“As a recognized expert in infectious disease, I’ve seen through the years between 10 and 20 patients who came to me with a characteristic pattern: they carry their medical files and they say, ‘I have Lyme [disease] and nobody believes me.’ [I’ll tell them,] ‘Well, we will send serology to the… [and they say,] ‘No, I’ve had that done that already. I was in Connecticut, they sent it to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).’

So, there is, with all respect to the patients, sometimes you see an obsession [with] being recognized as suffering from Lyme disease, and I haven’t seen that with other infectious diseases. Maybe yes, but not classic microbiologically-proven infectious disease. People want to get recognition. Now, why? Is it a pure psychological phenomenon? I believe that my colleague is saying something similar to what I think. I think that there is something special with Lyme [disease]. Maybe the bacteria localize in some areas of the brain that make people obsessive; everything is possible.

The group that I am working within Israel, they are doing [experiments regarding] OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder; this is a quite frequent condition. You can produce something similar to OCD in rats by modifying the microbiota, that means you take germ-free rats, you inoculate them with a certain combination of bacteria, and some will develop OCD, while some won’t. And so, maybe there is an interaction between Borrelia and the microbiota. I don’t know.”
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