Lyme disease: Not Sexually Transmitted

posted in: Science vs myths | 0

According to the CDC:

There is no credible scientific evidence that Lyme disease is spread through sexual contact. Published studies in animals do not support sexual transmission, and the biology of the Lyme disease spirochete is not compatible [with] this route of exposure.

Independent analyses from experts around the world, including UK’s NICE, 24 French medical organizations, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, and the American Lyme Disease Foundation, agree with the CDC.

Lyme disease is only spread by black legged (Ixodes) ticks. Typically, the tick needs to be attached for 36-48 hours or more to transmit Lyme disease.

Zika vs Lyme disease

An epidemic of Zika virus started in 2015. This virus is generally spread by mosquitos. When Zika spreads from a pregnant woman to her fetus, birth defects such as brain malformations and microcephaly can result. One case of microcephaly can devastate a family and potentially cost $10 million.

The cost to treat Lyme disease is generally less than $50 worth of oral antibiotics, but there is no medication or vaccine to treat Zika. CDC quickly determined Zika is sexually transmissible by both men and women.

However, decades of scientific study of Lyme disease have shown no compelling evidence of sexual transmission.

The individuals who allege a CDC coverup of the possibility of Lyme sexual transmission have failed to justify their conspiracy theory. Why would CDC quickly acknowledge sexual transmission of Zika while maintaining that Lyme disease is not a sexually transmitted infection?


CDC Frequently Asked Questions: Can Lyme disease be transmitted sexually?

Consumer Reports: You Can’t Catch Lyme Disease From Sex

American Lyme Disease Foundation: Lyme Borreliosis is not Sexually Transmitted [Refuting Raphael Stricker, Marianne Middelveen, and others]

CDC: Lyme disease transmission

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence: Lyme disease: diagnosis and management: Evidence review for person-to-person transmission

Scholarly Open Access: I’m Following a Fringe Science Paper on F1000Research

Auwaerter PG, et al. Antiscience and ethical concerns associated with advocacy of Lyme disease. Lancet Infect Dis. 2011.

Shapiro ED, et al. False and Misleading Information About Lyme Disease. Am J Med. 2017;130(7):771-772.

Reported Cases of Lyme Disease*-United States, 2016 (source: CDC)

* Note that locations are where the person lives and not necessarily where they contracted the Lyme infection.