Alberta Health Recognizes Lyme can be transmitted from Mother to Unborn Child and Risk of transmission through blood donation.
In a section titled Prevention, The Government of Alberta currently acknowledges:
'A pregnant woman may be able to pass Lyme disease to her unborn child, but proven cases are rare. Lyme disease hasn't been shown to cause birth defects or fetal death.'
They also state, 'If you have active Lyme disease, don't donate blood. The bacteria that cause the illness can be transmitted this way.'
'Current as of June 9, 2019'
One head-scratcher - if a mother can transmit Lyme to her baby, wouldn't that mean that Lyme can be spread human to human? So the statement they make 'cannot be spread from person to person' would appear to be incorrect. (As a note, several of the case reports of congenital transmission of Lyme were in cases where the baby was born and later died with Bb spirochetes identified in fetal tissues - citations below:)
Schlesinger PA, Duray PH, Burke BA, Steere AC and Stillman MT. Maternal-Fetal transmission of the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia Burgdorferi. Ann Intern Med. 1985;103(1):67-8.
Lavoie PE, Lattner BP, Duray P. H et al. Culture positive, seronegative, transplacental Lyme borreliosis infant mortality. Arthritis Rheum; 1987. p. S50.
Weber K, Bratzke H, Neubert UWE et al. Borrelia Burgdorferi in a newborn despite oral penicillin for Lyme borreliosis during pregnancy. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal Vol 7, No 4, 286-289, 1988
There have also been some cases of babies infected with Lyme with various manifestations/adverse outcomes.
Macdonald, AB. Gestational Lyme borreliosis. Implications for the fetus. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 1989;15(4):657-77.
Dattwyler R, Volkman D and Luft B. Immunologic aspects of Lyme borreliosis. Review of Infectious Diseases Vol 11(6) 1989.
Gasser R, Dusleag J, Reisinger E, Stauber R etal. A most unusual case of a whole family suffering from late Lyme borreliosis for over 20 years. Angiology. Vol 45, No 1. 1994
Trevison G, Stinco G, Cinco M. Neonatal skin lesions due to a spirochetal infection: a case of congenital Lyme borreliosis? Journal of Dermatology, 1997, 36, 677.
Clearly it is time for Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada to acknowledge what has been known and documented for the last 35 years. Lyme can be transmitted from a mother to her baby and, given that Lyme can be transmitted through the blood from a mother to her baby, this would also indicate there is theoretical risk that Lyme can be transmitted through blood donations.
Authors from a 2018 article have also indicated that asymptomatic, infected individuals with Lyme could donate blood. (it is open access so you can read full article by clicking link below):
Pavia CS, Plummer MM. Transfusion-Associated Lyme Disease - Although Unlikely, It Is Still a Concern Worth Considering. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:2070. Published 2018 Sep 4. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.02070
Highlights important points:
'On the other hand, it has been shown in one clinical study (Wormser et al., 2001) that 11% of 93 patients with B. burgdorferi in their bloodstream did not present with any objective clinical symptoms except for having the EM rash, and clinical experience (as mentioned above) suggests that for some patients the EM rash may go unrecognized. Thus, as suggested further by Ginzburg et al. (2013), it is entirely plausible that spirochetemic patients with an unrecognized EM, or one of shortened duration, might present themselves as potential donors.'
'However, no serologic testing or molecular analyses are routinely done which would be needed in order to fully ensure that potential asymptomatic, Borrelia-infected, donors are excluded from the donor pool' (Ginzburg et al., 2013)
This interesting video shows Lyme in the blood stream in a mouse model:
Links to Alberta Health public guidance on Lyme, under 'Prevention'
Alberta Health Public Health Disease Management Guidelines: