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What Lurks In the Woods: A Family’s Story of Alzheimer’s and Lyme Disease

0 3 years ago

For Nicole Bell, her husband Russ Bell’s diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s was inexplicable. Russ was young and otherwise fit and healthy. He exercised, ate the Mediterranean diet and wasn’t genetically predisposed to the disease.

In Nicole’s book What Lurks in the Woods: Struggle and Hope in the Midst of Chronic Illness (Oct. 2021), she chronicles her and Russ’ journey to uncover the root cause of his early-onset Alzheimer’s — and their search for effective treatments for what might have triggered his illness: Lyme disease.

Despite decades of research, the answer to the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s remains elusive. But scientists are increasingly recognizing the complexity and heterogeneity of the disease: There are likely multiple factors that can trigger the beginnings of Alzheimer’s, and rather than being one singular disease, and it probably consists of different subtypes.

So, researchers have been exploring the disease’s possible causes with fresh eyes. While the search for a definitive link between infectious microbes like Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) and Alzheimer’s has been inconclusive so far, experts are calling for more attention and resources devoted to exploring whether bacteria and viruses could lead to Alzheimer’s in some patients.

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