“There is little doubt that warming is moving Lyme disease around the planet,” said investigative journalist Mary Beth Pfeiffer, who recently discussed the science and controversy surrounding Lyme disease with Paul Costello, chief communications officer for Stanford's medical school.
When Pfeiffer first started writing stories about this tick-borne disease for the Poughkeepsie Journal, she initially bought into the medical dogma that said Lyme disease was “easy to treat and easy to cure.” But as she dug deeper, she discovered “a dysfunctional mainstream medical landscape of Lyme disease that really needed investigation, exploration and exposition.”
This led to her rigorously researched new book, Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change, where she pulls no punches in describing the growing worldwide threat of this disease and the urgent need for more research into treatment and prevention.
At the root of the controversy is the flawed two-tied Lyme testing protocol, which she says is based on old technology and misses far too many patients who are truly sick with Lyme disease and other tick-borne coinfections.
“You have a diagnosis that is missed and a disease that progresses. You may have a life-altering experience. You may not be able to work again, have profound fatigue, ongoing headaches, ongoing pain — and for some reason, medicine has overemphasized the risk of falsely diagnosing over truly diagnosing what can be a very serious disease.”
When asked how much research is being done today on Lyme disease, she replied, “Not enough.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reinforced this message with the release of a May 1 report that found that illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the United States from 2004 to 2016.
For those who are unfamiliar with Lyme disease, this 1:2:1 podcast is an excellent introduction to the subject. For those who want to learn more, I’d recommend Pfeiffer’s new book, which provides a well-written narrative on the latest Lyme disease research on epidemiology, testing, persistence, treatment and vaccine development.
Photo by Steven Ellingson, iStock