W. P. Fife, Ph. D.
R. A. Neubauer, M. D.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease caused by a Borrelia spirochete, usually Borrelia burgdorferi which was first recognized in late 1975 although a disease resembling Lyme has been recognized in Europe for over 100 years. It is endemic in the northeast United States, but may be found throughout the U.S. The larvae of the tick hatch in the spring and are not infected at birth. However, they become infected from mice or other animal hosts and hibernate throughout winter. They become active as infected nymphs in the summer and as ticks may be carried by any warm blooded animal. In humans, the disease is especially devastating and may even be fatal. In some instances an entire family may become infected. Since the tick is less than 1 mm in diameter, it often is not seen even when the consequences of the infection appear. The mainstay of therapy for this disease is prompt and efficacious antibiotic therapy. It has been noted that the tick cannot live in a hyperoxic environment and a project was begun by Dr. Fife to utilize hyperbaric oxygenation in conjunction with antibiotics in an attempt to eradicate the spirochete.