By Dr. Montgomery McFate, Joint Force Quarterly

Feb. 16, 2021

Dr. Montgomery McFate is a Professor at the U.S. Naval War College.

Dolli Lane, 96th Medical Group laboratory technician, reviews sample through microscope November 19, 2015, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, after recently discovering rare spirally twisted bacteria, known to cause tickborne relapsing fever, and cultured by Centers for Disease Control (U.S. Air Force/Ilka Cole)

Dolli Lane, 96th Medical Group laboratory technician, reviews sample through microscope November 19, 2015, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, after recently discovering rare spirally twisted bacteria, known to cause tickborne relapsing fever, and cultured by Centers for Disease Control (U.S. Air Force/Ilka Cole)

I love everything in the world. Except for ticks.  —Dalai Lama

No one is immune to, and there is no cure for, tickborne diseases. Just one tick bite can destroy a person’s career. At age 43, Air Force Colonel Nicole Malachowski was found unfit for duty due to neurological damage resulting from a tickborne disease. Colonel Malachowski was the first woman to fly with the Thunderbirds and then commanded the 333rd Fighter Squadron. She also served as the deputy director for U.S. Air Force Readiness and Training in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and as the executive director of the White House “Joining Forces” Initiative (2015–2016).1 While she was commanding an F-15 fighter squadron, Colonel Malachowski began experiencing a rapid onset of multiple symptoms. She wrote that she suffered from intractable pain, insurmountable fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and major problems with my speech and short-term memory. I endured disorientation, confusion, anxiety and even moments of temporary paralysis. I was unsafe to be left alone. I could not play with my children, care for myself, or interact with my husband. . . . There were times I would have welcomed death. I thought I was tough as a combat-proven fighter pilot but tickborne illness destroyed me. It brought me to my knees and ruthlessly broke me.2

Servicemembers are particularly at risk for Lyme disease; they live, work, and play on bases where Lyme is rampant. Some 75 percent of all U.S. military installations are located in states where 99 percent of the approximately 500,000 tickborne disease cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2004 to 2016 occurred.3 Moreover, training drills often take place in woods and fields that harbor a variety of tick species. In their leisure time, many Servicemembers and veterans, and their families, also enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking in the great outdoors, which increases their risk of encountering ticks.4 Lyme disease is most prevalent in rural counties with relatively high socioeconomic status, abundant forestation, wet conditions, and mid-range temperatures. These American counties tend to be exactly the sort of places where veterans like to retire, and indeed, “Lyme disease incidence rates were higher in counties with greater military veteran population compositions.”5 (See link for article)



Our military is in harm’s way and it isn’t from bullets.

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A few corrections & comments:
  1. Lyme disease has been around forever.  The first published case in 1970 actually happened right here in Wisconsin, but there were previous reports of ‘Montauk Knee’ and circular rashes that would clear up with penicillin. This early history is important to remember and share.
  2. Frankly, the jury’s still out on what is exactly causing “Lyme disease,” and there are far more strains of borrelia involved than is being recognized and reported. We also know many patients are coinfected or infected with something other than Lyme, that a Lyme test will not pick up in a million years.
  3. The CDC recently increased the numbers of new cases of Lyme per year from 300,000 to 476,000.  This too is important and reveals the numbers keep growing yet nothing of relevance is being done yet the mythology surrounding it abounds.
  4. It is my belief they continue to push the ‘climate change’ label as a slight of hand to keep people from asking about tick experimentation and dropping ticks out of airplanes.  This experimentation was done in government, military labs, one was directly across water from where the Lyme, Connecticut “outbreak” occurred.  Coincidence? The lab has been moved to KU.
  5. I take issue with “typical signs of infection” including the rash, as research has shown that is highly variable.  
  6. While I’m glad they give Dr. Spector’s experience, we really have ZERO idea how many cardiac manifestations occur as testing is abysmal and doctors would prefer to diagnose you with anything but Lyme.  I guarantee you, hundreds if not thousands of people with heart issues are not getting properly diagnosed and treated.
  7. The same thing is true for Lyme neuroborreliosis supposedly occurring in only 15% of patients.  Every single patient I work with has it.  Many are not being diagnosed.  Remember, testing misses 70% of all cases.  How can you be diagnosed with something if the test says you aren’t infected?  I am elated they mention the psychiatric symptoms, as well as the fact 33% of late-stage patients were found to be suicidal, 41% of children had suicidal thoughts, with 11% making suicidal gestures.  THIS IS HUGE.  These issues have been denied and downplayed forever.
  8. This article’s acknowledgment of congenital Lyme will shock many, but it’s all true.  Even the author connects the similarities between syphilis and Lyme – something our public ‘authorities’ seem incapable of.
  9. The article states that in more than 50% of cases, Lyme is not cured by a single round of antibiotics.  How can we continue to spew numbers when testing misses at least 70% of people?  My guess is, this number is reality is much, much higher.
  10. The article continues the wrong statistic of 20% failing antibiotics and going onto suffer persistent symptoms.  This article, written by a microbiologist states that percentage is closer to 60%, and certainly is much closer to my experience as a patient advocate.
  11. Lastly, the statement that Lyme/MSIDS is only lethal in rare cases again is unfounded as few are getting diagnosed and treated.  You can’t count something that isn’t recognized.  I posted an article recently that addresses the problems with death certificates.  I guarantee you people are not obtaining certificates with Lyme/MSIDS as the cause of death.
Overall, a very balanced article – which is a nice change.  We must be careful when putting percentages to any of this as the problem is far worse than is being reported.
The military is in harm’s way – but so is the average person gardening in their own back yard.  Tick-borne illness isn’t going away and has been denied and downplayed for decades.  
Again – time for this to change.

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