In December of 2018, the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group released its first report to Congress regarding the epidemic of emerging disease. This article gives a basic rundown of relevant statements contained in the first of three TBDWG reports to Congress.
What is the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group?
The TBDWG is a fourteen-member panel of infectious disease professionals called together in light of the 21st Century Cures Act and organized by the Department of Health and Human Services. This group is tasked with reviewing the current science and treatment progress of the various tick-borne diseases and reporting their findings to Congress every two years in December. December 2018 saw the first report, there will be a second report in December 2020 followed by final recommendations at the end of 2022.
So what does this first report detail regarding Morgellons disease? Let’s dive in and find out!
Chronic Lyme Disease
At the start of the first TBDWG report it is stated,
“While most Lyme disease patients who are diagnosed and treated early can fully recover, 10 to 20% of patients suffer from persistent symptoms, which for some are chronic and disabling. Studies indicate that Lyme disease costs approximately $1.3 billion each year in direct medical costs alone in the United States.”
Sounds promising, but what about the insensitive testing methods? What does the report say about early diagnosis and why there are so many false negatives? Amazingly the report addresses these concerns directly, “Today, available diagnostic tests can be inaccurate and complex to interpret, especially during the earliest stage of infection when treatment is most effective. Unlike in other infectious disease settings, tests to directly measure the presence of the infecting organism, such as cultures or tissue biopsies, are not available for some tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. This leaves physicians without the tools needed to diagnose; and without an accurate diagnosis, it is challenging for physicians to provide early treatment.”
Wow! With that kind of admission about standard Lyme testing, you would expect similar honesty regarding other controversial aspects of Lyme disease. What about congenital transmission then, what does this report state about Lyme infecting unborn children?
Lyme Congenital Transmission
From the report, the sole instance of recognition appears on page 53 in the chapter titled “Treatment”. It states,
“Pregnancy: Transplacental infection of the human fetus has been recognized for relapsing fever borreliosis, as well as Lyme disease, babesiosis, and certain arthropodborne flaviviruses. Pregnancy poses particular challenges for treatment because few antimicrobials have been approved and are safe to use during pregnancy. Additional research into appropriate treatment options are needed.”
It’s right there in black and white and from the red, white and blue state of American Freedom and Democracy! Why then would the World Health Organization remove such an apparent consideration from its medical coding system?
But what about Morgellons specifically? What does this report elicit about those afflicted with this particular skin manifestation that’s been thoroughly associated with tick-borne disease?
What’s in the report for Morgellons?
Keyword analysis of the report reveals seventeen instances of the term “skin” speckled throughout. The first instance is regarding frequent skin lesions that occur early in the infectious process. It continues to state that with early treatment the better prognosis can be achieved. While that’s great and everything, what else does it say about skin lesions that may be particularly relevant?
The next two instances of “skin” in the report occur regarding utilizing skin agents to deter ticks from attaching to the skin. The following six instances regard the characteristic erythema migrans bullseye rash and that relates to early diagnosis. This section is interesting in that it elaborates on the many kinds of erythema migrans that can occur and gives a visual presentation of each. Still, none of these erythema migrans look anything at all like Morgellons ulcerations.
The tenth and eleventh occurrence of the term “skin” in the first of three TBDWG reports to Congress are of interest as they describe Figure 10 in the report, “Skin Rashes of Tick-Borne Diseases”. Figure 10.a depicts Tularemia which is a Tick-Borne Infection (TBI) that produces lesions in the skin. The difference between Tularemia and Morgellons, however, is Tularemia does not produce collagenous fibers, which are the defining characteristic of Morgellons disease.
Occurrence twelve describes how skin rashes present early in dissemination and appears alongside a figure that demonstrates how the IgM response falls off over time, leaving a patient with primarily elevated IgG antibodies.
“Skin” appears for the thirteenth and fourteenth time in the report regarding the challenges of diagnosing skin rashes in individuals with darker skin tone. This section stresses the importance of TBI education in areas where Lyme is not considered endemic, as a lapse in diagnosis can result in severe patient complications.
The fifteenth and sixteenth use of the term “skin” appear alongside information regarding how the disease disseminates from the skin to other organs of the body in the sixth chapter which details treatment. This section is completely fascinating, eliciting how infected patients are more susceptible to re-infection and how mice vaccinated against influenza produced a suppressed immune response to the flu in light of their infection with Borrelia burgdorferi.
If Lyme disease can suppress the immune response for diseases other than itself, what else can it accomplish?
The final instance of the term “skin” in the TBDWG report to Congress is alongside recognition of NIAMS, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. We went to the NIAMS website and was not at all surprised to produce a lack of search results for the term “Morgellons“.
Is the TBDWG Report Good?
The first TBDWG Report is surprising. It’s not at all littered with propaganda and falsehoods that plague our esteemed medical establishments. Besides not directly addressing Morgellons the report does reveal several controversial facts about Lyme disease that many in official health agencies currently disagree about. This is a refreshing move in what could be considered a positive direction.
This report did not try to appease the establishment, but at the same time, it doesn’t explore the full extent of the Lyme pandemic. The fact is the fourteen members of the TBDWG have two more reports to produce, and we know for certain many of them are aware of the significance Morgellons has relating to their efforts.
If a grade was to be applied to the first report it feels like this initial effort deserves a solid B+.