A Leading Florida Lyme Patient Advocate Corrects
Lyme Teachings in Harvard Article
The Harvard's Men's Health Watch front page published "Insect Bites and Stings," and made this quote:
"It takes many hours to transmit Lyme disease, so you can prevent infection simply by removing the tick promptly with tweezers and then washing the bite with soap and water. Antibiotics, even a single 200mg dose of doxycycline, can also prevent infections, but most experts don't think medication is necessary." (July 2004. Vol. 8:12)
Please allow me to differ with your experts.
I do not know where this writer received his/her information, but it is very apparent he/she did not contact any of the many doctors who are actively treating this disease. I am speaking of the doctors who are on the front lines fighting this horrible debilitating disease.
There is probably NO cure for Lyme disease at this time. Once an infected tick bites you, there is NO PREVENTING Lyme disease -- certainly not with mere soap and water. Perhaps with profoundly aggressive treatment at the exact onset of infection, some might destroy their Lyme.
However, most treatment is relaxed and casual, involving low dose antibiotics of one class, merely taken for a few weeks. And while insurance companies may like this cheap approach, some of the most common antibiotics used do not kill all types of Lyme disease throughout the country -- some are resistant to common antibiotics. One needs various antibody attacks at times. Further, if treated in the initial weeks and months, which is common in "acute" treatment, one merely is shocking the bacterium (spirochete) and certainly not killing cystic forms, which are like little walnuts. [See amazing photo's on this site of Lyme alive and well after treatment in: Is Chronic Lyme Dead After a Month of Antibiotics?.
Common casual "early" treatment merely puts this resilient killer into temporary remission. Further, one patient observed the tick immediately and removed it promptly, but still became deathly ill even after immediate treatment with antibiotics. It is possible to progress immediately into what is termed "Late State Lyme" even after short-term antibiotic treatment.
Why? A poor immune system, the innumerable ways the Lyme spirochete hides from the immune system and the speed at which it attacks. For example, In Louis Reik's, Lyme Disease and the Nervous System (Thieme Press), this academic neurologist from Connecticut explains that in lab animals, the Lyme spirochete is in the gonads, lungs, kidneys and heart in five days. It is in the brain and eyes in seven days (page 23).
A SINGLE DOSE of doxycycline will NOT prevent infection! This line of thinking is what is wrong with the medical establishment today. Misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment therapy is criminal. It is time for our esteemed colleagues to listen to their peers who are out there battling day to day with patients who were misdiagnosed or inadequately treated, and now have severe arthritis, strokes, heart damage, profound fatigue, neurological manifestations and disability. Many of these patients were eager and energetic citizens. Your solution: soap, water and a dose of Doxycycline? Really, truly this advice must be from the 1950's, not third millennium medicine.
More and more is being learned by the doctors who are fighting this disease. There are multiple co-infections being found in patients who do not respond to short-term antibiotic therapy. All of this must be considered when treating someone who presents with a history of a tick bite. It is fallacy on the part of doctors who consider that Lyme disease can be cured with a three-day to three-week course of antibiotics. Our cemeteries are beginning to fill with such victims to this approach, and some are loved ones of the leaders in the movement to educate doctors fully.
Doctors who treat patients with "chronic Lyme disease" must treat all of the co-infections in addition to the Lyme bacterium. So anyone even discussing Lyme disease without simultaneously mentioning co-infections, is living in a world of abstraction, fully divorced from real ticks in the USA.
Generally, the co-infections must be treated closely along with treatment for Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease). In many areas of the country it is the norm to have a person with co-infections. Some, like the mild forms of American Babesia, do not kill quickly and are easily missed. And if one uses labs with simple basic tick infection testing, offered among their many hundreds of other tests, they are routinely worthless. In other words, false negatives in patients with a clear bulls-eye rash and profound illness with Borrelia burgdorferi, is the norm in our experience. When a home is on fire and the fire chief says, "There is no need for water," it is time to buy someone some glasses.
I repeat, the Lyme bacterium can be injected into the body the very minute the tick attaches to feed on the patient. The tick can transmit this bacterium (spirochete) through its saliva at the time of attachment. It doesn't take 36 hours!
It is also proved the longer you go without treatment, the longer it will take to put Lyme disease into remission. Further, the Lyme bacterium can evade antibiotics by burying itself deep into the tissues where it forms a coating (cyst) around itself for protection. It can lay dormant until such time as the immune system is weakened, whereupon it can again enter the bloodstream and reach "active" status again, with new symptoms. This is similar to youth exposed to TB in foreign countries, which hides in the lungs for decades until the immune system is weakened.
Your suggestion, "removing the tick promptly with tweezers," alarms me. There are Tick Removal Kits on the market now and I would suggest everyone keep one on their key ring. The tick should be "lifted" from the skin gently without squeezing the tick with tweezers. This merely injects further tick secretions into the skin.
I would suggest your writer contact Ms. Pat Smith, President of the Lyme Disease Association, Inc., a national organization, for correct documentation needed. Below is her contact information:
Pat Smith, President
Lyme Disease Association, Inc.
PO Box 1438
Jackson, NJ 08527
888-366-6611 information line
732 938-7215 fax
The Harvard's Men's Health Watch should at the very least print an article expounding correct information concerning Lyme disease and it's co-infections.
Thank you for your time.
Marvina Lodge, President
Florida Lyme Disease Network, Inc.
4166 Oak Grove Drive
Zellwood, FL 32798
Printed with permission of the author with my thanks.
DR. SCHALLER NEITHER SUPPORTS NOR OPPOSES THE INFORMATION LISTED ABOVE. PLEASE DISCUSS WITH YOUR LICENSED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.