Is Lyme Disease Fatal?

Is Lyme Disease Fatal?

Is Lyme disease fatal? Yes, of course it is.

Before you panic, just because you feel like you are dying right now doesn’t mean that your Lyme disease is going to put you in the grave anytime soon. However, Lyme disease can infect any and/or all of your organs – most dangerously your heart and brain.

As early as 1990, Lyme disease has been listed as the official cause of death – even acknowledged by the CDC – in the case of Amanda (“Mandy”) Schmidt, 11 years old who was bitten by a tick 1988 and misdiagnosed with strep when the rash and fever appeared (without lab confirmation.) Mandy was in remission for a number of months before she developed a raging fever, went into a coma after a grand mal seizure, and then continued to manifest a variety of other symptoms even after coming our of the coma (swollen and painful joints, strange rashes and brain damage. She died on September 24, 1990 almost 2 years after the tick bite.

This was no surprise to Dr. Alan MacDonald who was the pathologist at South Hampton Hospital in New York (not many miles from Deer Island see Lab 257). Dr. MacDonald had been examining tissue samples under a darkfield microscope showing spirochetes – Borrelia burgdorferi in particular – as the cause of death in many stillborn infants and sudden death in infants and young children in which there was no other known cause of death.

Dr. MacDonald later used the same technique to identify Borrelia burgdorferi as the cause of Alzheimer related deaths upon examining brain tissue.

The unfortunate truth is that so many people are never diagnosed with Lyme and suffer for years with an “unknown” infection. (I had several organs removed from my body by doctors who examined the organs in the lab and diagnosed infectious damage but never revealed the causative infection. I am sure I am not alone with this medical history.)

So who can begin to count the deaths that have occurred in mental institutions, geriatric wards, neo-natal wards and in the general population due to Lyme disease if the tissue examined in the autopsy id not tested for spirochetes.

Even with this barrier to gathering true statistics, there were over twenty confirmed Lyme related deaths in the year of 2000 according to and keeps track of reported deaths due to Lyme disease. In spite of the growing numbers, the pat answer from the mainstream medical community is that Lyme disease rarely causes fatalities.

Dr. Brian Fallon of Columbia University has done a study showing that Lyme disease patients are much more prone to depression and suicidal pressure than other patients with similar chronic diseases. A disease can affect the will to live in the same way it affects joints, tendons, hearts and eyes Suicide is probably the most common cause of death for those with Lyme disease – at least those who can be counted precisely.

Dr.Richard Bransfield says,

“Suicidal tendencies are common in neuropsychiatric Lyme patients. There have been a number of completed suicides in Lyme disease patients and one published account of a combined homicide/suicide. Suicide accounts for a significant number of the fatalities associated with Lyme disease. In my database, suicidal tendencies occur in approximately 1/3 of Lyme encephalopathy patients. Homicidal tendencies are less common, and occurred in about 15% of these patients. Most of the Lyme patients displaying homicidal tendencies also showed suicidal tendencies. In contrast, the incident of suicidal tendencies is comparatively lower in individuals suffering from other chronic illnesses, such as cancer, cardiac disease, and diabetes.

“To better understand the link between Lyme disease and suicide, let’s first look at an overview of suicide. Chronic suicide risk is particularly associated with an inability to appreciate the pleasure of life (anhedonia). People tolerate pain without becoming suicidal, but an inability to appreciate the pleasure of life highly correlates with chronic suicidal risk. Of course, there are many other factors that also contribute to chronic risk. For example, one study demonstrated that 50% of patients with low levels of a serotonin metabolite (5HIAA) in the cerebrospinal fluid committed suicide within two years. Apart from factors which contribute to chronic suicidal risk, there are also factors which trigger an actual attempt, i.e.; a recent loss, acute intoxication, unemployment, recent rejection, or failure. There is much impairment from Lyme disease which increases suicidal risk factors. However, suicidal tendencies associated with Lyme disease follow a somewhat different pattern than is seen in other suicidal patients. In Lyme patients, suicide is difficult to predict. At A­tempts are sometimes associated with intrusive, aggressive, horrific images. Some attempts are very determined and serious. Although a few attempts may be planned in advance, most are of an impul A­sive nature. Both suicidal and homicidal tendencies can be part of a Jarish-Herxheimer reaction.

I cannot emphasize enough the behavioral significance of the Jarish-Herxheimer reaction. As part of this reaction, I have seen and heard numerous patients describe becoming suddenly aggressive without warning. I can appreciate skepticism regarding this statement. How can this be explained? Like many other symptoms seen in Lyme disease, it challenges our medical capabilities. In view of this observation, I advise that antibiotic doses be increased very gradually when suicidal or homicidal tendencies are part of the illness.”

Read Dr. Bransfield’s entire article here.

For more information on specific individuals who have died from Lyme disease check out: Page/200900793255749?sk=wall in addition to

If you are contemplating suicide due to your ongoing symptoms of Lyme disease please contact your doctor immediately. Anti-depression medications will help until you can recover. You need all the support you can get.

And remember, you are not alone.


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6 Responses to Is Lyme Disease Fatal?

  1. Hi Jenna,
    A friend referred your blog to me as she knows I suffer from RICKETTSIA which is basically another form of Lyme disease that can be transmitted via vectors other than just ticks. I was infected by either a mite or flea while bathing a sick dog! I already had been battling CTD, Lupus, and Raynaud’s – all autoimmune diseases (some in the medical community now consider Lyme/Rickettsia to be – because of the inflammatory conditions and systemic effects).

    I welcome you to check out our web site and book, “A Husband, A Wife, & An Illness; Living Life Beyond Chronic Illness.” It is our story of how chronic illness turned our lives upside down. I was a wellness expert; writer, presenter, and cert. P.T. running a successful clinic/center in Houston until I contracted Rickettsia. It took over 5 years for a diagnoses and by then, the IV antibiotics did nothing but compromise my immune system over time.

    Although we don’t specificly say what my conditions are in the book because we wanted it to help anyone going through the throes of chronic disease, we do talk about it in our workshops and interviews. There is a video on first page of our site – you just click on photo of our former family home and it will start. If you go to “DVD/Book” page, you can also click on some video excerpts of one of our presentations, “In Sickness & In Health; Keeping Love Alive in the Midst of Illness” I ALSO talk about having Lyme/Rickettsia in that presentation.

    I want to commend you on your article and site – very well done with some really good information on this insidious disease!

    I’ve just started interfacing with other bloggers where we are “guest hosting” on each others’ sites and, becoming “followers/subscribers” to reach more people with our information. Let me know if you would be interested in this.

    I am subscribing to your site here this morning.

    In the meantime sending you Healing Wishes,


  2. Pingback: Gifts from Lyme Disease « LifeLoveLyme

  3. Kendall says:

    To Whom It May Concern: I have been diagnosed with Babesia, Bartonella and Borrellia Burgdorferri. I am requesting a copy of the above Blog Please. I am trying to gather as much information as possible to learn as much as possible. I am currently being treated by a Chronic Disease MD and Want to know as much information on Lyme Disease that I may get my hands on. I am also seeking information on support groups.. Thanks for Your Time and Attention: Sincerely, Kendall

    • Jenna Smith says:

      Hi Kendall –
      I am sorry about your diagnosis. Please spare yourself the pain of trying to educate a chronic disease MD unless he is already Lyme literate you will be sorely disappointed! Finding a LLMD is much more important and they will already know this info. However I am happy to share my research so just let me know which articles you want. Most MD’s think the internet is spreading lies about science and are complete quacks and unqualified to write even one sentence about it. I am not a licensed medical provider but a journalist and as you can see from my blog I carefully research these topics because of my own suffering as well as my desire to help others. I will try to help you in any way I can, however, it is an LLMD who will treat you properly and full recovery is what you deserve NOT being made tofeel crazy by an arrogant specialist (Can you tell I have been to a few of those?)


  4. kief press says:

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I
    think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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