CONCEPT OF STEALTH INFECTIONS
As a Soft Tissue Therapist I treat varying musculoskeletal aches and pains that are commonly associated with muscle tightness and postural imbalances. However when the cause of symptoms are complicated or ‘unknown’ as commonly found with autoimmune conditions, it can be hard to find treatment that works. My interest in chronic illness stems from my father having Bipolar disorder and my grandmother passing with Alzheimer’s. This interest became my passion, after meeting a patient who had been successfully treated in the U.S for her chronic pain condition Fibromyalgia. The news gets better, because the evaluation and treatment this patient underwent is not common practice here in Australia, I had an excuse to travel to the U.S and meet with leading field experts to learn more.
According to Microbiologist Professor Garth Nicolson, founder of the Institute For Molecular Medicine, California U.S, stealth type bacterial infections can play a causal role in illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Autism and Lyme Disease.
In an interview, Dr Nicolson explains to me that chronic infections can lead to auto-immune problems, disorders involving the central and peripheral nervous systems and play havoc with nerve transmission. The infection process causes damage to cell membranes which leads to fatigue, loss of energy, loss of ability to perform functions, and can impair our ability to think, remember, understand and sleep.
“Stealth infections are in general bacterial infections but in some cases can be viral infections. They get inside cells and hide inside cells and can’t be seen by the immune system. The most common stealth infections we have studied and found amongst fatiguing and neurodegenerative diseases are Chlamydia pneumoniae, Mycoplasma and Borrelia burgdorferi. These intracellular bacteria have different life forms, some of them are free swimming, some of them are inside cells, some of them are metabolically active and some forms are metabolically inactive. When they are metabolically inactive they are very difficult to find. Their genetic signature is not as strong.”
According to Dr Nicolson, when these underlying infections are identified they can be treated with a number of therapies such as combination anti-biotic therapy and addressing dietary requirements to boost the immune system. “Stealth infections are best identified by molecular means, such as examining DNA. They aren’t picked up in routine lab tests.”
This important process is not part of orthodox screening and treatment for stealth infections is not traditionally included in protocol for those suffering with chronic illness.