I remember with great clarity the absolute statements that were being told in 1977 to the medical students by the CDC and the country’s top medical experts. Statements were continually issued about this new illness and nearly all of them had the undertone of: Don’t worry. This isn’t a serious illness. And we are handling it. I can remember professors being very guarded and excited about this illness. It was almost like the challenge to find a cure for Polio; the medical community was being poked, and the soldiers of the medical-arts were ready for battle.
Whenever there is a new disease described in the medical literature; a small group of scientists, doctors and epidemiologists get very excited. I am just old enough to remember the clamor and excitement about Lyme disease in 1975 because at that time when Alan Steere first described “Lyme Arthritis” in the medical literature, I was a naïve microbiology graduate student taking classes at the Medical School in Duluth, and all the young minds and our mentors at the school were buzzing and hypothesizing about what could be causing this mystery illness in Old Lyme Connecticut.
When a new illness is discovered we want to be sure about certain things as soon as possible: How is it spread? Is it spread from person to person? Where is it located? Is it spreading or isolated and contained? What are the symptoms? Who does it affect? What are the short and long-term consequences? Is there a test? Can it be treated? Can it be cured? Can we make a vaccine?
In Clinical Science class all of us were told that Lyme Arthritis was isolated to the N.E. USA and primarily in Connecticut . We were told it was not contagious. We were told it appeared to be only a rheumatoid disease and not life threatening. We were told that the primary symptom was a rash. We were told that it was self limiting and could resolve on its own. In my old class room notes I circled something I wrote almost 35 years ago: “Two weeks of tetracycline effective: therefore has to be a bacteria or mycoplasma! Curable.” Like many others I assumed like most 20th century bacterial infections, that it was easily curable. Like others I made this extrapolation without knowing the pathogen that was involved. I merely classified it as a bacterium or mycoplasm.
Mind you no one knew if it was actually caused by a virus, a parasite or a bacterium, but since tetracycline appeared to be effective, Lyme was treated exactly like a Strep throat with two weeks of a safe and inexpensive antibiotic. Tetracycline was an antibiotic that was often used for to treat acne, and sometimes prescribed for years at a time. (Funny how no acne cases have ever been cured by antibiotics? Acne must really be a serious illness!)
My point is: The experts got it wrong. They got it all wrong! Almost everything that was important to know about “Lyme Arthritis”: the experts got wrong.
What did they get Wrong?
They told us it was an arthritis disease only.
When it was undeniable that it was transmitted by a tick bite we were immediately told without evidence that it was a brand-new species only found near Old Lyme CT.
They told us it was only found in the NE USA
Despite early treatment failures and no treatment studies we were told two weeks of tetra or doxycycline was curative, and we were told this before we knew it was a spirochetal infection.
We were told with certainty that it did not pass from mother to fetus.
We were told after we knew it was a Borrelia species similar to TICK Born Relapsing Fevers , that only the non existent Ixodes daminii tick and no others could transmit Lyme.
We were told Lyme was not related to Relapsing Fevers with scientific semantics based on a phylogenetic tree for Borrelia species that was heavily flawed
When new species of Borrelia popped up causing bull’s-eye rashes we were told these were not Lyme disease
We were told Two tiered testing was better than a clinical diagnosis or a single Western Blot.
We were told that the rash was no longer diagnostic of the disease.
We were told false positives outnumbered false negatives on ELISA tests.
We were not told about conflicts of interests by these experts holding patents on vaccines, antigens, Lyme tests and connections to pharmaceutical companies.
The experts did not vacillate or equivocate; they made absolute statements to the public with absolute certainty, and were absolutely wrong. To my knowledge they have never collectively or individually apologized or recanted on their mistakes nor have we held them or their institutions accountable.
So why then do we still allow them to this day to be called Lyme-Disease experts when they have caused such international suffering and even deaths? Yet we continue to allow them to dictate their opinions world-wide as absolute facts?
If you want to know the gist of my blogs: It is simple: Let pathology and microbiology be our experts. If something is true it can be put to the test.
I have a great deal of respect for the purity and sanctity of science, I never thought that in my lifetime I would see such corruption of science as I have seen by our own CDC and State Health Departments to turn their backs on Lyme patients and science. Why they have chosen to be villains rather than heroes is speculation, but those that corrupt and purposely ignore the ever growing evidence of persistence of infection post-treatment are not our experts, but rather conspirators and I will not accept their unconscionable acts as anything less than what they are: corrupt.