Farmers talk of agony from undiagnosed Lyme disease


Farmers have opened up about the agony of suffering silently with Lyme disease, which is notoriously difficult to diagnose.

There are around 200 new cases of Lyme Disease every year, but the true incidence is not known, as it can often be overlooked, due to varied symptoms.

Pop star Avril Lavigne, actor Richard Gere, and former US president George W Bush are all said to have experienced the horrors of the Borrelia bacteria, which is carried by infected ticks.

‘Ear to the Ground’ presenter Ella McSweeney, left, with Charlie Harkin, who had Lyme disease, and his wife, Serena.

It can cause a range of debilitating symptoms, from fatigue and joint pain to neurological problems.

It is transmitted by tiny ticks that live outside on animals. Farmers are particularly vulnerable to the condition.

Jack Lambert, a consultant specialist in infectious disease at Dublin’s Mater Hospital, believes the disease is more common in Ireland than previously thought.

“We actually have to open up our mind up to this new disease, which is much more common than we were previously aware of,” said Dr Lambert.

“We need to resource, to educate the GPs on the frontline, who are seeing these patients, to even think about Lyme.

“We need to educate the specialists, who are seeing these patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and rheumatological conditions and neurological conditions, to even consider Lyme, because it’s not on their radar screen at present.

“Not every case of rheumatoid arthritis is going to be Lyme disease, but you should at least think about it and do the test and take a history.

In Thursday’s episode of RTÉ’s farming series Ear to the Ground, a farmer speaks of the devastation of suffering the symptoms, such as chronic fatigue and joint pain, and the failure to have his condition diagnosed.

Charlie Harkin, a part-time farmer from Inishowen, began to feel unwell on Christmas day four years ago.

He suffered with Lyme disease for two years before being diagnosed following a blood test.

“I was jumping for relief that someone was telling me what I had,” he said.

I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. It is savage. It was one of the scariest things I ever went through in my life and I never want to do it again.

Dr Lambert said the disease is very treatable.

“My belief, and my observation from treating patients, is that even if it has been in your system for five or ten years, if you do all the necessary treatment — antibiotics, immune supplements, anti-inflammatories, things to fix the immune system — it is curable,” he said.

“If you catch it early, within six months, I think, sometimes, even a three- to six-week course of antibiotics does it, or even two to three months of antibiotics does it.”

Farmers are urged to avoid tick-borne infections by wearing repellent and by checking for ticks at the end of the day, looking out for a bulls-eye rash, flu-like symptoms, and nerve pain.



I’ve previously posted articles on Dr. Lambert, a Scottish doctor who is currently working as an Infectious Diseases consultant in a public hospital in Dublin, Ireland. He has been treating Lyme Borreliosis patients for 20 years in the USA and during the last 5 years in Ireland. He has also successfully treated young women who fell ill after their HPV vaccination, which seems to have stimulated a latent Lyme infection.

For those articles:

Some telling quotes by Dr. Lambert:

We are in the very primitive stages of our understanding of Lyme and co-infections. This is what I sometimes would like to do. Lyme is a bacteria, a spirochete. It gets into your body and causes all sorts of damage. Immunological damage, inflammatory damage.

“But it’s the bacteria. Dummy.”

We should not be calling it Chronic Fatigue or MUS, when we know it is caused by a bacteria. And the bacteria is hard to grow. And the immune system starts to attack the bacteria and causes all this inflammation. The immune system eventually starts to wear down. But when you treat many of these patients with all of these ‘garbage bag’ diagnoses, they get better with the antibiotics.

Antibiotics work against bacteria, anti-virals work against viruses. So when I treat someone with antibiotics and they get better, my conclusion is that this is a bacterial effect (although disbelievers say antibiotics have ‘immunological effects’).

So, I say to the disbelievers ‘It’s the bacteria, dummy’ and find better diagnostic tests to identify these bacteria. Don’t tell patients it ‘post-infectious’ when you are unable to grow the bacteria before treatment, and then can’t grow it during or after treatment.

Treating this; however, takes finesse and a trained & experienced eye.  This is not a straight-forward illness like strep-throat.  For more on that, please see:

Essential concepts while treating Bb:

  • Treat all forms of Bb
  • Treat coinfections as this is typically a polymicrobial illness
  • Lyme/MSIDS is slow growing and persistent requiring longer treatment time
  • Dr. Burrascano recommends Cycling.  This means that after a person has been symptom-free for 2-4 months stop treatment.  If and when symptoms return, start treatment again.  In his experience, 3-4 of these cycles typically allow most patients to achieve wellness, with the worst herx on the 3rd cycle.
  • Lyme/MSIDS wreaks havoc on the entire body requiring supplementation where imbalances occur
  • Inflammation requires changes and substances to reduce it
  • Address pain
  • Address insomnia
  • Some patients require higher doses of drugs as research has shown their blood levels aren’t high enough.  Without high enough blood levels, they won’t be killing pathogens and run the risk of allowing the pathogens to mutate
  • Address psychological issues if present
As you can see, this is far from a “take this pill and call me in the morning.”


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