Some of you may have already read this interview conducted by Andy Wilson from the film crew of “Under Our Skin” on Feb, 28 in 2007, although the interview was not released until last month. My computer crashed or I would have sent this out sooner.
Some of you may have already read this interview conducted by Andy Wilson from the film crew of “Under Our Skin” on Feb, 28 in 2007, although the interview was not released until last month. My computer crashed or I would have sent this out sooner. The credibility of Dr. Burgdorfer can not be questioned, however, his knowledge of the disease epidemic is clearly censured. (See additional information at the end of this interview):
This interview with can also be viewed at the
I remember that time quite well. Allen Steere called me in the summer of 1977 and said, “Willy, I would like to discuss with you the
methods you are using in dissecting ticks, and [looking] for microbial agents.” I sat with him about two hours that summer and told him over the phone how to dissect ticks. Then about two months later he called again, and I repeated, again, the same thing. And he finally said [in 1981], “Well, I’m willing to send you some serum [samples]. I want you to examine them for me.”
But it was not an “Aha” [moment]. It was a “What in the hell? What’s in that smear?” And then my work [on
relapsing fever] as a Swiss student came back. [I said to myself], “Willy, these are spirochetes!” The slide showed long slender forms, a little bit curved, and they were only in the mid-part of the tick. Nowhere else.
There were so many people who said, “That is impossible Willie. You can’t get spirochetes out of hard-bodied ticks.” [But from my work on] relapsing fever ticks from Africa, I knew what a spirochete looked like. The Belgian Congo and Kenya are hot-spots for relapsing fever. Even
Livingston [the African explorer and Scottish missionary] was exposed, and he called it “tick fever.”
And what did they call this spirochete?
I discovered the agent producing Lyme disease, so they called it
The similarities that I know of are associated with the
infection of the brain
, the nervous system. The syphilis spirochete,
We don’t know the end yet. And [we] can’t even make a d smear with Borrelia burgdorferi and see the organism. It’s there. But you don’t see it. You cannot find this spirochete. Why not? After all, I have a sick person here. He is trembling
all over. His spinal fluid is full of spirochetes. But when it comes to blood, it’s not there. So there is something associated with this organism that makes it different.
Why is Borrelia burgdorferi so hard to find in the body and culture outside the body?
I am a believer in
because people suffering with Lyme disease, ten or
fifteen or twenty years later, get sick [again]. Because it appears that this organism has the ability to be sequestered in tissues and [it] is possible that it could reappear, bringing back the clinical manifestations it caused in the first place. These are controversial issues for microbiologists, as well as the physicians who are asked to treat patients.
How do you feel about the controversy in the Lyme world?
The controversy in Lyme disease research is a shameful affair. And I say that because the whole thing is politically tainted. Money goes to people who have, for the past 30 years, produced the same thing—nothing. Ser
ology has to be started from scratch with people who don’t know beforehand the results of their research.
There are lots of physicians around who wouldn’t touch a Lyme disease patient. They tell the nurse, “You tell the guy to get out of here. I don’t want
to see him.” That is shameful. So [this] shame includes physicians who don’t even have the courage to tell a patient, “You have Lyme disease and I don’t know anything about it.”
What about the Lyme vaccine?
The [first generation] vaccine was not specific enough and not strong enough. So what is needed is additional work on a vaccine. What we have right now is a good example of work that goes to
industry [too soon], and industry says, “Okay fine, get it out. “ And somebody says, well it’s too early. And it’s already on the market … and you see that every day …You see that this company is falling down, and these guys are realizing that the
vaccine work is full of holes and never should have come out
A lot of people are going to pay for that. They’re going to get sick with Lyme as a result of the vaccination. Then you’re in trouble.
What do you think about the relationship between Lyme and neuro-degenerative disease like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease?
Right now they are building a
, to study this possibility, because many
physicians believe that neurological manifestations, regardless [of] what type, are typical for Lyme disease. [NOTE: This center has been built – see link above.]
What do you most regret about what has happened, in the aftermath of your discovery?
: I most regret that the technology used to diagnose and to even treat Lyme disease wasn’t worked all the way through. It [wa s based on] only a few results, then
published. And later on, people d to take them back.
Neurological manifestations have to be the next stage of research. Also [
No. I don’t.. But I say that cautiously. Because I have been working with Lyme disease ever since 1981.
The team who filmed UNDER OUR SKIN had an unexpected visitor from a top researcher at the nearby Rocky Mountain Laboratories, a biolevel-4 NIH research facility.
Standing at the door, the government official said, “I’ve been told that I need to supervise this interview. This comes from the highest levels. There are things that Willy can’t talk about.”
The film crew was incredulous. “We were stunned.
After all, Dr. Burgdorfer had been retired from the lab since 1986. We were there to talk t o a private citizen, about the history of a very public discovery that had put him on the short list for a Nobel Prize. Earlier that year, the NIH had refused our requests to interview any of their Lyme researchers. What was going on? Why would the NIH want to censor information about the fastest growing bug-borne disease in the United States?”
Fortunately, our iron-willed film director, Andy Abrahams Wilson,
turned the NIH handler away, and what followed was an amazingly candid interview about Lyme disease—its dangers and its controversies.”
Soon after the camera was turned off and the crew began packing up their gear, Dr. Burgdorfer told the film team with a sly smile, “I didn’t tell you everything.”