Wall Street Journal recently published an article on chronic Lyme disease. That’s right, they actually wrote those three words together in black and white. Although most of the article was loaded with the more accepted term PTLDS (Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome), it seemed impossible to escape the fact that John Hopkins is now treating an illness that according to some does not exist.
In the article “The Mystery of Chronic Lyme Disease” the respected journal presents the heated debate between the IDSA and the ILADS camps who polarize medical doctors and affected families across the country.
However, among pathologists and microbiologists there doesn’t seem to be any debate at all.
Peer-reviewed literature in specialized fields are loaded with information about the morphological nature of Lyme disease. Indeed there have been major medical studies that clearly show the existence of chronic Lyme going back to the initial discovery of borrelia burgdorferi in 1981.
In 1980, researcher Willy Burgdorfer, PhD., a researcher/scientist at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Montana, along with his colleague Alan Barbour, M.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center stumbled upon the causative agent for Lyme disease while studying a large number of ticks in an effort to determine the cause of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
As they searched the ticks for rickettsiae (the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Fever), Burgdorfer first noticed an influx of nematode worms. Curious, he dissected the worms and behold; there was the elusive spirochete. He later described it as “poorly stained, rather long, irregularly coiled spirochetes.” Further examination revealed spirochetes in 60% of the ticks. Read “On the Trail of a Ticking Time Bomb” from SUNY’s own publication.
Dr. Burgdorfer and Dr. Barbour continued to study this spiral-shaped bacteria, or spirochete, from infected deer ticks, and in November 1981, the two scientists further discovered that the spirochete caused both the symptoms of Lyme disease and the strange bulls-eye rash called erythema migrans (EM).
A revealing sidenote (and possible root to the fierce position of infamous on Lyme disease Dr. Alan Steere) is that the rheumatology department at Yale University was also hunting for the cause of the EM and swollen joints of the children Steere had diagnosed with “Lyme arthritis” back in the ’70s – which he thought was a virus. The race was concluded with Dr. Burgdorfer’s discovery.
By 1982 the spirochete was officially named Borrelia burgdorferi in honor of Dr. Burgdorfer’s role in its discovery, and the rest is history.
Thankfully John Hopkins has squared off against Harvard/Steere breaking the logjam and giving hope to sufferers around the world. John Hopkins balances carefully between the two camps due to the bad press “chronic Lyme disease” has suffered over the last three decades, but in spite of that JH has boldly opened two centers for the treatment of Lyme disease – including “late Lyme disease and chronic Lyme disease.
According to the article in WSJ, Dr. Aucott diagnoses Lyme disease at least once a day in his practice – this is certainly understandable given recent local studies in northeast US.
A fascinating presentation was given by Ying Zhang, PhD, at Norvect this year. Dr. Zhang was one of the author’s of John Hopkins landmark study on “persister” bacteria in Lyme disease (a way to describe the bacteria that persist in spite of antibiotics). You can see first hand the predicament a serious researcher faces in this ridiculous dialogue.
Although the centers are listed on their website under Rheumatology (strange for an infectious disease, eh?) the centers ARE committed to ongoing research and treatment.
I think Dr. Burgdorfer says it best when he said, “It is a shameful affair…” Watch his interview on my home page http://lymediseaseresource.com.