By Bill Densmore, Citizen Media Inc.
An award-winning author of a groundbreaking book on Lyme Diseases joined a medical expert and an outspoken Lyme patient in an evening of “tick talk” on Wed., Oct. 2, at Williamstown’s Milne Public Library, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The talk was attended by about 40 people. (WATCH VIDEO BELOW)
“This was an opportunity for people to hear experts talk about the controversies and science of tick-borne diseases,” said Bill Densmore, executive director of Citizen-Media Inc., the Williamstown-based 501(c)3 nonprofit which is organizing the event. “It was also a chance for people who have suffered from Lyme, or know friends or relatives who have, to share information about their treatment.”
The panelists included:
— Mary Beth Pfeiffer, a free-lance journalist and former award-winning investigative reporter for the Poughkeepsie Journal. Her book: “Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change,” was published last year by the nonprofit Island Press-Center for Resource Economics. Densmore interviewed Pfeiffer in February 2018 at a Lenox, Mass., restaurant. Densmore was treated more than a decade ago for Lyme disease. A RECENT OP-ED BY PFEIFFER | (MORE ABOUT THE BOOK)
VIEW PFEIFFER’S SLIDE PRESENTATION
— Dr. Korey DiRoma, N.D., of the Stram Center for Integrative Medicine, in Bennington, Vt. DiRoma is a graduate of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, in Tempe, Ariz., and obtained his bachelor’s in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Arizona. Working in collaboration with Dr. Ronald Stram, he has helped develope medical and herbal protocols for treating tick-borne illnesses using guidelines established by ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society).
— Jennifer Benoit, of Bennington, Vt., who has researched and spoken about her experience with Lyme disease at the Stamford, Vt., public library and elsewhere. She has developed a slide-show, and will discuss and hand out materials about about Lyme-disease prevention, how to remove a tick, tick facts, a symptoms checklist and testing regimes.
VIEW BENOIT’S SLIDE DECK
Pfeiffer’s “Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change” describes how the spread of suburban subdivisions and hacked up forests has helped ticks multiply. She quotes multiple studies and researchers who document the spread of ticks slowly northward and to higher altitudes as the climate warms. “The reason for this rather sudden habitat expansion is pretty clear – the climate is warming,” she says.
The medical dispute
The medical dispute has now landed in a federal court in Texas, where noted plaintiffs’ attorneys in 2017 filed a class-action suit alleging a conspiracy by eight health insurers and at least seven prominent physicians to advocate and only pay for limited care. The argument poised to play out in court is this: Would a different regime have avoided extended suffering or even death by thousands of Lyme victims?
Lyme disease at its most benign causes a telltale bulls-eye rash around the bite to a human in 50 percent or fewer reported cases, say many U.S. treating physicians. It is often asymptomatic and missed. When the rash or other typical symptoms appear, testing followed by antibiotic treatment appears to short-circuit any complications, says one group of physicians.
But at its worst, says a significant contingent of other treating physicians and victims, testing is inaccurate or inconclusive and short-term antibiotics not always effective. They say unresolved Lyme and other tick-borne diseases can cause chronic pain, joint swelling, arthritis symptoms, persistent rashes, behavioral changes, so-called “brain fog” and speech troubles and in some rare cases life-threatening heart trouble.
Most U.S physicians subscribe to a dominant “camp” – and the controversy is so ingrained that both sides have spoken of “camps.” The dominant view is that says two-days’ treatment with an antibiotic such as doxycycline will kill the Lyme disease “spirochete” bacteria that a tick’s bite can deliver under a person’s skin. Only if the telltale bull’s-eye rash — or other symptoms — are present is a longer course of antibiotics required, they say.
But for many years, a smaller, well-organized group of respected doctors say clinical observation and research suggest such a short course of antibiotics does not always kill the Lyme disease’s Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete bacteria. They say it can move from the bloodstream into the nervous system and brain, wreaking havoc over time. This group argues in favor of at least 28 days of antibiotics when Lyme disease is diagnosed, and possibly other treatments, including medicinal herbs, careful diets and exercise and even visits to hyperbaric oxygen chambers.
The controversies over test reliability and how much antibiotic therapy to prescribe, and when, are not as heated as a more fundamental argument over whether there is any such thing as “chronic” Lyme which can persist for months or years after a month or less of antibiotic treatment.
- RELATED LINKS:
- It’s Time to Get Serious about Tick-Borne Diseases | Mary Pfeiffer | Scientific American Blog Network