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Where are the articles on Lyme disease?

Dr David L Katz, a medical doctor and blogger for Prevention Magazine, wrote this reductive "preview" of Under Our Skin last year. On the Prevention site, I posted my response to his claim that there is no such thing as chronic Lyme. In his article, Dr Katz admits that he hadn't yet the movie, yet he already had strong opinions about it. I went searching for his post this morning, but it has since been removed. There is very little trace of Lyme disease mentioned in his health blog. I am not singling out Dr Katz for criticism here. However, I find it curious that a popular magazine on integrative medicine doesn't seem to be concerned with Lyme disease anymore.


Here is an excerpt of his 4/25/2008 blog post, which he titled "From the (sub)Lyme to the ridiculous":

A Yale colleague and leading authority on Lyme Disease, Dr. Durland Fish, brought to my attention a documentary film, to be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, highlighting the devastation wrought by chronic Lyme infection.

The only problem with that is...there is no such thing.


The best available science indicates that chronic infection with Lyme does not occur. There certainly can be, and are, chronic symptoms after Lyme infection- but that is very different from chronic infection. Consider, for instance, that after a bout of polio, some people have a permanent disability. That does not mean they are permanently infected with poliomyelitis- we know for a fact they are not.


There is, unfortunately, a cottage industry in treating "chronic Lyme." That treatment often involves lengthy courses of antibiotics, long after evidence of active infection is gone. Some clinicians are probably engaged in this practice in a genuine, if apparently misguided, effort to help. Others- a far more serious transgression- may be exploiting patient desperation for profit.


As far as I can tell, the documentary on chronic Lyme will be in equal parts compelling, and misleading. The terrible plight of the patients profiled will, and should, tug at your heart strings. But the implication that these are cases of chronic Lyme infection is at odds with the scientific evidence.


Here is my response:

Unfortunately, the vast and often seemingly disconnected array of symptoms, which can include rheumatoid arthritis, arrhythmia, memory loss and crushing fatigue, often lead patients from specialist to specialist, who never choose to investigate whether an underlying bacteria, treatable with antibiotics, could be at the root of their patients' problems. These clinicians could as well be "exploiting patient desperation for profit." Countless people have been misdiagnosed and under-diagnosed with Lyme disease, subscribed medicines that replicate the Lyme bacteria, causing the patient further, and even permanent, harm.



Comparison of the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, with poliomyelitis proves very little. The spirochetal bacteria that causes Lyme disease is able to evade the body's immune system, and it is scientifically well-documented that tests for Lyme infection are often inaccurate.

Perhaps a "cottage industry," as you call it, has developed for a good reason. People are suffering. Many doctors are unwilling to consider Lyme infection as a cause of their pain. Numerous medical researchers and physicians recognize that gaps exist in our current understanding of the Lyme bacteria. More scientific studies and more medical research is necessary.
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