Archive for the ‘Ticks’ Category

Research For Chronic Lyme Fellowships Awarded



GREENWICH, Conn (Dec. 5, 2017)—Global Lyme Alliance (GLA), the leading 501(c)(3) dedicated to conquering Lyme and other tick-borne diseases through research, education and awareness, today announced the awarding of its first-ever fellowships to five young postdoctoral scientists whose work focuses on Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS) or chronic Lyme.

The three-year fellowships, made possible with the support of Deborah and Mark Blackman, will support five recent Ph.D. graduates with specific interest in understanding whether persistence of the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease pathogen, or host evasion mechanisms are responsible for the continued symptoms experienced by patients treated for Lyme disease.

“The new fellows are hard-working and brilliant young scientists with fresh ideas who will tackle the mechanistic underpinnings of PTLDS,” said Mayla Hsu, Ph.D., GLA’s director of research and grants. “We’re delighted to be able to support these researchers at the beginning of their careers.”

The five are:

  • George Aranjuez, Ph.D., University of Central Florida, is studying the molecular mechanisms that Borrelia uses to survive during mammalian infection and how it evades the immune system.
  • Ashley Groshong, Ph.D., University of Connecticut, is examining the link between Borrelia protein metabolism and its ability to form persister cells thus evading antibiotic assault.
  • Matthew Muramatsu, Ph.D., University of Texas-Southwestern, is exploring how the genetics of persister Borrelia differ from that of replicating bacteria. His work will focus on how the transcription signals that start the persister pathway are regulated.
  • Bijaya Sharma, Ph.D., Tufts University, is studying whether immune deficiency is related to continued symptoms in Borrelia-infected mice. Her work explores the genetic factors in Borrelia that underlie bacterial persistence.
  • Xuran Zhuang, Ph.D., University of Maryland, will use tick microinjection to study the growth of persister bacteria and its genetic pathways in samples she recovers from patients.

The “Blackman-GLA Postdoctoral Fellowships” will total $1,125,000. Each fellow will receive $75,000 per year, for each of the three years, including travel expenses to Lyme disease conferences and an invitation to GLA’s annual closed-door scientific symposium, where they will participate in scientific discussions, present their findings and meet with program donors Deborah and Mark Blackman.

All applicants were required to submit a detailed scientific proposal for expert review. Annual reports on progress of project milestones will be required before second and final installments will be awarded.

“Supporting young researchers at the beginning of their careers shows the commitment of GLA and the Blackmans to nurture the development of a cadre of experts in the Lyme disease field,” said Scott Santarella, GLA’s CEO. “We also hope that the findings of these scientists will be potentially broadly applicable to other infectious diseases.”

In addition to the fellowships, GLA awards grants each year to researchers working on promising projects that best fulfill the organization’s goal to improve diagnostic testing and uncover more effective treatment protocols. Proposals received for the 2017-18 research grant cycle represented a broad range of interests ranging from tick ecology to co-infections, from new treatment approaches to basic biology of Borrelia infection in the mouse model, in both its acute and chronic stages. The 2017-18 grantees will be announced before the end of the year.

Global Lyme Alliance (GLA) is the leading 501(c)(3) dedicated to conquering Lyme disease through research, education and awareness. GLA has gained national prominence for funding the most urgent and promising research in the field, while expanding education and awareness programs for the general public and physicians. Learn more at


Suppression of Microscopy for Lyme Diagnostics – Professor Laane

Interview With Professor Laane About the Suppression of Microscopy for Lyme Diagnostics

Written by Huib Kraaijeveld


Around 2003 the WHO encouraged research into microscopy as a direct test for the Borrelia spirochete, the pathogen causing Lyme disease. When a promising new and simple technique was discovered in 2013, it was however violently attacked. Not on the science itself, which is the normal procedure in science, but personally. Now retired professor microbiology Morten Laane was fired after he gave a lecture at a scientific conference in 2014. Moreover, his laboratory was closed down, the website of the scientific journal was hacked and the article disappeared. An exclusive interview.

“If experts treated airplane accidents in the same manner as an average medical scientist studies disease, I would book my next travel to the USA by ship.”

Professor Laane

Courtesy of Under Our Skin

Who is professor Laane?

Born in July 1940, in the small city of Toensberg, Morton Laane grew up during the second World War. “My mother visited her sister in the city of Bergen the ninth of april 1940 the day war broke out in Norway. They survived the severe attacks by the German warships. My mother travelled along the coast by a Norwegian local ship to the small city of Toensberg where the family lived close to the Oslo fjord. This was not a very smart idea, as several ships were attacked and destroyed by German submarines.

My father was in Finmark, the arctic part of Norway, together with a substantial number of Norwegian soldiers as a medical officer. When I was born, my mother, who had professional training in handling weapons, sat alone with a hidden gun in a small flat close to the German headquarter across the street. When the free artic part capitulated a couple of months after the start of the German invasion, he was first arrested by the Germans, later released and went back to Toensberg.

In 1947 my father showed me how to detect the Syphilis spirochete by very simple microscopy. Numerous sailors lived in this city known for its substantial commercial fleet. Back then, Syphilis infection was not uncommon in sailors.

My father had a small, old Leitz brass microscope of high quality. A tiny sample from the patient was mixed with an equal part of drawing ink on the glass slide made for microscopy. Drawing ink consists of extremely tiny black particles (coal). They do not penetrate into the bacteria. Normally they are almost invisible. Light pass through the unstained bacteria against a total black background.

This started my interest for microscopy. Later my father specialised in psychiatry. He had no use of his microscope and I got it as a gift. Looking back, almost everything in my life started as a hobby.

I became scientific assistent in general experimental genetics. My boss, Dr. Øistein Stromnaes worked with the fungus Penicillium. Nobody had seen its chromosomes before, but I discovered a simple method to count them in the light microscope.

So I was offered a research fellowship a the University of Bergen, I continued my research there and my PhD dissertation took place in 1971. The committee evaluated my theses as very good and suggested that I might have the qualifications of a personal professor position for life time and further develop new methods in genetics.

One of my discoveries regarding Penicillium brought me in contact with Lynn Margulis, then Lynn Sagan, wife of the famous Carl Sagan. Her research on cellular evolution and endosymbiosis led to the understanding that the energy-converting organelles, the mitochondria and chloroplasts, are actually bacterial symbionts living inside eukaryotic cells. This discovery earned her the reputation of being the most famous scientist in evolutionary biology after Charles Darwin.

My discovery was connected with her spirochete research, which focused on the symbiotic nature of the relationship between spirochetes and their hosts, in particular the noted ability of these bacteria to form dormant “round bodies” that are capable of reactivation. Nobody in the world knew more about spirochetes than Lynn.*

Later I discovered a somewhat similar structure in the slime mould (Physarum) which was much used for experimental research. I got in touch with Professor Ivar Giaever, a Nobel laureate in Physics and we cooperated for many years supervising Master and Ph.D. Students.”

Microscopic Lyme diagnostics

Microscopy is considered the Golden Standard in diagnostics for Syphilis. Given his background and expertise in microscopy, it made sense to Laane to try and find a method to detect the Borrelia in infected blood.

Laane: “My coworkers and I had published a series of papers in the Norwegian journal ‘Biolog’ regarding a problematic sheep disease called “alveld”. The papers contained unusual and spectacular images of possible toxic blue green algae (bacteria) that were suspected to be connected with this disease.

The Biological Institute then asked for cooperation regarding Lyme infections in order to compare microscopy and molecular tests. The Institute was responsible for administration regarding formal permissions to do medical research. It turned out that no reliable data were obtained from the molecular studies. The institute was responsible for this part. Microscopy showed, however, characteristic spirochetes in a number of patients together with other organisms such as Babesia.

The syphilis and Borrelia spirochetes share many properties. They cause permanent infections in humans which cause long-lasting, multi-stage diseases. They exist in more than one form – sometimes in the long spirochete form, but also in a round “cyst-like” form. The spirochete form can be made visible by simple methods and observed with a microscope.

Borrelia spirochetes in dry smears and in isotonic solutions appear as very thin cells, only 0.2 micrometers wide, and as very long – in the range of 50 to 100 micrometers. These are visible above the resolution limit for light microscopy – due to what we call light interference – by slight defocusing. In dry preparations, a focus error of more than 1/1000 mm renders them invisible under the microscope. In wet preparations, the cells swell substantially.

My colleague and I published the results of our part of the project due to our firm belief that microscopy is useful for detecting these infections. Beforehand we were assured by the Institute that formal permissions were granted by the health authorities. It turned out that the Institute, somehow had forgot to point out in a formal enough manner that a substantial part of the project included microscopy by us!

Our project leader was educated as a medical doctor, and had later became a biologist. He was also Head of the Institute to which the project was connected. We, my colleague and I, got a copy of the first page of the application accepted and signed by the Health authorities. We did not, unfortunately, see the entire application before it was too late, as the project description was incomplete in that it did not express without any doubts that about half of the project involved extensive use of microscopy to analyze samples.

The project leader knew of my cooperation with Oeystein Brorson, the extremely clever technician who was able to grow Borrelia from infected blood samples. We had agreed that the application should be written to state that extensive microscopy was needed for the project as a way to confirm the results of molecular tests.

The Institute received around 2 million euro (NOK 20 mln) and bought two DNA machines. The test project was thus an official Institute project, not an application by a group of three scientists. In hindsight, we should have asked to see the complete application, but we did not and went on the trust for our project leader. This turned out to be a mistake, as we were later blamed for not reading the regulations for medical research and additional legal papers.

The trust that caused us to not read the full application was labelled as “intention,” to mean we intended to subvert the regulations when we embarked on this project. This is simply not true.

Silenced for speaking

After publishing the 2013 article ‘A simple method for the detection of live Borrelia spirochetes in human blood using classical microscopy techniques’, professor Laane was invited to give a lecture at the 2014 Norvect conference in Oslo. An English patient saved the pdf, so you can still read it, via the link provided.

I was present at that conference and still remember how nervous he was. The reason was that several medical professors complained to his university. He was threatened with losing his job, if he would speak at the conference.

In fact, he did not literally speak – as you can see in the movie below – but used performing arts to show the slides of the spirochetes. Professor Laane was fired anyway and his laboratory was closed down.

Laane: “As for being forbidden to speak, Waldemar Broegger, a Geology professor in the late half of the nineteenth century was forbidden to speak about Charles Darwin’s evolution theory. Lynn Margulis was originally ridiculed for her theories on the evolutionary origins of mitochondria and chloroplasts and later received numerous awards for this discovery. As both of these scientists were found to be right and later became famous, I feel I am in good company.

The 2013 publication of ‘A simple method for the detection of live Borrelia spirochaetes in human blood using classical microscopy techniques’ in the journal Biological and Biomedical Reports resulted in much opposition by conservative medical doctors and some scientists, most of whom had little or no microbiology experience working with spirochetes in a laboratory environment.

The article and research was criticized because the cellular objects we were observing were presumed to be “artifacts,” meaning objects of some other origin that just magically appeared in our samples. It’s extremely important to point out that all of our principal research was performed under highly controlled conditions, and our results were confirmed using more than one microscopy method. The critics of our work have yet to explain how these supposed “artifacts” we observed were able to reproduce and even move like spirochetes, which we observed them doing, and even more importantly, the critics have failed to explain how an “artifact” could possibly contain nucleic acids from Borrelia.

Yet, in that same year Dr. Alan MacDonald found out independently the same as me regarding how to detect chronic Lyme infections in human blood. Before this the assumed borrelia bacteria had been found by a Norwegian microscopist, who had an extremely ill son from Lyme.

MacDonalds arguments in these two videos (part one and part two) are brief, but very much to the point. He has later developed methods to detect single Borrelia bacteria direct in a microscope slide by exact molecular methods.

Oeystein Brorson is also mentioned by MacDonald. He was the researcher who grew all known strains of Borrelia in Norway, sent me samples and cooperated with Lynn Margulis and me, until he got disabled due to disease and had to leave his job.

After my lab was closed down, also the website of the scientific journal that published our article was so severely hacked that it stayed offline for three years. Once it came back up, our article had dissapeared.

The hacking of the Journal ‘Biological and Biomedical Reports’ seems to be done with a person knowing more than my closest enemies. And was someone with access to a quite advanced compilator system. Why this was done might well have been political or personal prestige.

I have never seen this happening on any topic in science before.”

Proof or propaganda?

In 2016 the Norwegian Health Department (FHI) published the study ‘Validate or falsify: Lessons learned from a microscopy method claimed to be useful for detecting Borrelia and Babesia organisms in human blood’. It stated,

“microscopy by the LM-method identified structures claimed to be Borrelia- and/or Babesia in 66% of the blood samples of the patient group and in 85% in the healthy control group”.

The TV2 reporter in the infamous documentary ‘Deceit or Borrelia’ misquoted this sentence by claiming that “it was proven that Dark Field microscopy produces 85% false positives”.

There are however suspicions that the Norwegian study was set up to discredit professor Laane’s work, using contaminated blood.


“Officially, on their website The National Institute of Public Health claimed that the only known case of Babesia in Norway was a veterinarian that have had his spleen removed, and else that Babesia was unknown in the Norwegian population.

But I found a faked sample of Babesia. It was blood from a cow (or ox). It was mixed with human blood from a socalled control person and sent to me by mail.

Of course, this sample clotted impossible to see anything in the sample by microscopy except lumps of erytrocytes and fibrine fibers. If I had got the original sample unmixed, I would have found them at once. The FHI showed me a few images from a preparation they had made themselves, BEFORE it was mixed with human blood. The Babesia images there were the same as I found in several so-called control samples.

When I showed them, they looked a little worried – like school children not telling the truth to their teacher – but they would not admit that control samples contained Babesia merozoites.”


Borrelia stained with the Mysterud-Laane method, blue color.


Live biofilm of Borrelias developing in a mixture of blood and sodium citrate (this patient was tested positive also by molecular methods by American laboratory).


In the introduction to their 2016 article, the FHI authors also state that Lyme serology has a 70-90% sensitivity in the earliest stages and a sensitivity of almost 100% in later stages, which suddenly seems to become the new mantra in several countries. This seems to have been taken from a 2016 article written by IDSA and CDC authors, which was criticised for using circular logic.


“A recent report presented in Norwegian newspapers claim that inaccurate science, especially in medical topics, is common. Norwegian Professor Oeyvind Oesterud has written several short articles in Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper about science and popular science papers.”

He points out that false conclusions are favoured by both journals and media on the criteria that discoveries should be spectacular. Unless they are not, they are not accepted. Also the official evaluation system for research grants favours this. Many of these discoveries can not be repeated. But it generates much money for the universities.

Such scientists believe in accepted science. Any deviation shown by experiment may be interpreted as incorrect or false. One may wonder why they publish at all. Regarding deviating disease data they are often neglected – according to what the medical scientist was taught as a student by his professor. The deviating results are never studier further and ignored as “errors”. Up to about half of recent medical papers may contain this.

The result is delayed progress, sometimes with big consequences for severely ill patients. Patients that could be saved. Disease problems are very complicated and there is need for research listening to what both the patients tell and meticulous analysis of unexpected data.

As a final thought:

“Travel by modern airplanes is now very safe. If experts treated airplane accidents in the same manner as an average medical scientist studies disease, I would book my next travel to the USA by ship.”  Professor Laane

Exception or a pattern?

The European Union has recently provided a 2 million euro grant to a cooperation of three parties to develop a better Lyme test, as the current one is considered imperfect. At best.

So why are there several indication of the active repression and sabotage of new, better and direct ways to diagnose Lyme? Is professor Laane’s story unique or showing a doisturbing pattern?

“This never happened before on any topic in the history of science in Norway”, Laane said in his interview with the makers of ‘Under Our Skin Emergence’. Yet also in other countries scientists have been attacked for working on promising new and direct Lyme tests.

In 2014, French lab director Schaller was fined was fined with paying 280,000 euro to the government and was sentenced to nine months in jail. Also in 2014 the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publicly attacked the credibility of Advanced Laboratory Services, which had developed a culture-based test for Lyme disease diagnosis. The basis for the CDC’s attack has since been proven wrong, yet the CDC has never retracted the article in which the errant criticism was made.

A direct and ‘no false-positive’ DNA test for Lyme was no longer made available to the general public, after its inventor was fired from a Connecticut hospital in 2010. And recently media attacked the tests of specialised labs in Germany, using undercover reporters and twisted patients’ stories, claiming they were either not ‘FDA approved’. As professor Ahern explained in her recent interview, none of the tests promoted by the CDC or your national Health agencies are ‘FDA approved’.

The next interview with Dr. Lee will look into what happened around the development and public accessibility of the DNA diagnostics mentioned above. It will be published very soon.

* Professor Laane and I will work together on a future article about the work of Lynn Margulis, as too few people seem to have heard of her important work.

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Biologists at SF State Dig into Ticks and LD

Woman wearing purple pullover and hat holds a pair of tweezers and a small lizard, with a forest in the background

Professor Andrea Swei prepares to pull a tick off a western fence lizard.

East Coast gets the limelight, but California’s ticks play by different rules

Lots of things probably come to mind when you think of Lyme disease, but California likely isn’t one of them. Most of the human cases of Lyme — and most research studies on it — happen in the northeastern U.S. But new work from San Francisco State University Biology Professor Andrea Swei and her former graduate student Jessica Kwan shows that the West Coast may have a thing or two to teach the East about the disease.

“The West Coast has been largely ignored,” said Swei. “And I think that’s a mistake.”

For Swei, California’s lower prevalence of Lyme is an opportunity to probe how the bacteria that causes the disease spreads differently on the West Coast. One leading explanation has to do with the different hosts that Lyme-carrying ticks prefer. In the Northeast, young ticks like to feed on the blood of small mammals like mice and chipmunks. In California, however, they have another favorite: western fence lizards. These lizards have unique blood that actually kills off the Lyme bacteria present in ticks, essentially un-infecting them.

That got Kwan thinking. If the Lyme disease bacteria dies when its host feeds on a lizard, what happens to all the rest of the tick’s microbial residents? After all, the whole community of microbes in a tick — what scientists call its “microbiome” — could affect whether Lyme-causing bacteria thrive.

The team, with Kwan at the helm, captured western black-legged ticks from around Marin County both by dragging nets through vegetation and by pulling them off lizards. They also raised some in the lab. The team then tested tens of millions of snippets of bacteria DNA from the ticks and organized these snippets by how similar they were to one another. That gave them an idea of the diversity of microbial life that was living in each tick, and how that diversity changed over the ticks’ lives.

They found that ticks harboring a less diverse community of microbes were more likely to be infected with the Lyme pathogen, and that those microbe communities actually became less diverse as the ticks fed and grew.This came as a surprise — both findings ran counter to research done back east. “We were thinking in the East Coast model,” explained Kwan. California ticks, apparently, play by different rules.

The results also hint at a more complicated role for western fence lizards in the transmission of Lyme. “They’ve been touted as this secret weapon against the Lyme disease bacteria,” Swei explained. But if they make the whole microbiome of a feeding tick less diverse, that tick may actually be more likely to harbor and spread the bacteria that causes the disease.

Swei and her team plan to keep on probing the unique California Lyme disease system. Armed with new data, they’ll keep investigating this more complicated picture of the western fence lizard’s role. They even plan to look at how different strains of the same species of Lyme-causing bacteria could change how the disease spreads. “There’s a lot we can still learn from the system here,” says Swei.

The work was published on Nov. 28 in the journal Molecular Ecology and was funded by the National Science Foundation.


LYME IS NOT RARE IN CALIFORNIA.  IN FACT IT’s EVERYWHERE BUT ANTARCTICA, but give it time and it will be there too.  

The myths must stop!

Study found here:, along with other links on ticks in the comment section after the study.

Please know that Andrew Spielman’s tick maps have been used for decades against patients.  Doctors look at the flawed maps and proclaim, “Lyme isn’t here because the tick isn’t here.”  That is getting blown out of the water on a daily basis. Explains about Spielman’s maps – 

Spielman’s triumphant discovery was short-lived….

Tick expert James H. Oliver states:

“When I started working in this area, I was told, point blank, Lyme disease was not in the South, and human Lyme disease could not occur — there were no ticks and no germs,” he recalls. But he was not convinced that the blacklegged ticks in the North and South differed much — or that Spielman’s discovery represented a separate species at all.

In a series of experiments from 1989-1990, Oliver demonstrated that so-called Northern deer ticks (dammini) and the blacklegged ticks (scapularis) found up and down the East Coast bit exactly the same animals in the lab. In 1992, he showed that even ticks from widely separated areas like Georgia and Massachusetts were genetically too similar to be different species. And breeding ticks from the North and South in the lab, Oliver demonstrated that a series of matings produced reliably fertile offspring — a crucial test of species boundaries.

Oliver’s definitive experiments blew up the idea that dammini was a new or separate species. The name dammini was dropped from the scientific literature. But Spielman’s framework — restricting Lyme to the Northern ticks — remained intact.

The notion that the ticks in the North and the South were fundamentally different still lies at the heart of the controversy over Southern Lyme. Oliver attributed most of those differences to Southern heat: To avoid it, scapularis nymphs hide out under leaf litter, biting lizards and small mammals instead of questing for larger prey on tall grass or brush.


Vertical vs. Horizontal Transmission of the Microbiome in a Key Disease Vector – Ixodes Pacificus

Vertical vs. horizontal transmission of the microbiome in a key disease vector, Ixodes pacificus

Kwan JYGriggs RChicana BMiller CSwei AVertical vs. horizontal transmission of the microbiome in a key disease vector, Ixodes pacificusMol Ecol2017;00:112

First published: 


Vector-borne pathogens are increasingly found to interact with the vector’s microbiome, influencing disease transmission dynamics. However, the processes that regulate the formation and development of the microbiome are largely unexplored for most tick species, an emerging group of disease vectors. It is not known how much of the tick microbiome is acquired through vertical transmission vs. horizontally from the environment or interactions with bloodmeal sources. Using 16S rRNA sequencing, we examined the microbiome of Ixodes pacificus, the vector of Lyme disease in the western USA, across life stages and infection status. We also characterized microbiome diversity in field and laboratory-collected nymphal ticks to determine how the surrounding environment affects microbiome diversity. We found a decrease in both species richness and evenness as the tick matures from larva to adult. When the dominant Rickettsial endosymbiont was computationally removed from the tick microbial community, we found that infected nymphs had lower species evenness than uninfected ticks, suggesting that lower microbiome diversity is associated with pathogen transmission in wild-type ticks. Furthermore, laboratory-reared nymph microbiome diversity was found to be compositionally distinct and significantly depauperate (lacking in numbers or species) relative to field-collected nymphs. These results highlight unique patterns in the microbial community of I. pacificusthat is distinct from other tick species. We provide strong evidence that ticks acquire a significant portion of their microbiome through exposure to their environment despite a loss of overall diversity through life stages. We provide evidence that loss of microbial diversity is at least in part due to elimination of microbial diversity with bloodmeal feeding but other factors may also play a role.


More on ticks:


Scottish Doctor on Lyme/MSIDS Part 2

“It’s the bacteria, dummy….” Focusing on that spirochete borrelia

Written by Huib Kraaijeveld (On Lyme Foundation)

The second part of the interview with Dr Jack 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. Dr. Lambert shares his experience with different emerging serious conditions caused by complex infections and looks at similarities or differences of how they are regarded and treated. Read part one here:

Differences between Lyme and other infectious diseases

With any new area of research there is stigma. A lot of people did not want to touch people with AIDS as they were from special risk groups that society did not accept, whether it be sexual preference or race or socioeconomic group. But Lyme affects everybody, from rich to poor, while the medical profession stands back.

So in a different way patients with Lyme are discriminated against and also stigmatised by an elusive diagnosis. When the Lyme symptoms come and go, are widespread and there is no description in the textbooks to describe the condition they are presenting with, many medical doctors seem to think that chronic Lyme does not exist, get frustrated with patients and indeed will label them with alternative diagnosis. Such labelling leads to both discrimination and stigmatisation of these patients.

To me it means that we need to write new textbooks, to describe these findings, not come up with labels that put patients into a ‘basket’ that does not fit. While most patients with chronic Lyme and co-infections have been managed and treated by ‘Lyme literate’ doctors, they have seldom published their results. They are clinicians, so publishing is not a priority to them. Lyme doctors should do a better job cataloguing and describing cases of their patients, to get it in the medical literature.

On the other hand, there is much more of an academic influence with the IDSA doctors, and, while they have seen many less patients, they have the clear edge in terms of publication and getting their messages out into the medical literature. Interestingly, I tried to publish a review on the issues of Lyme and co-infections, some of the issues in diagnosis and the schism between the IDSA and ILADS doctors, just as a position paper to stimulate new thinking.

This was an ‘invited’ review by a journal that I had successfully published reviews on HIV and Hepatitis in the past. It is entitled Lyme and Co-infections: an International View. Five referees responded in quite an acrimonious and unhelpful way, different from how I have ever received feedback from other submitted publications. It was an eye opener to me.

Comments were made like “The major thrust of this manuscript is more opinion than fact or critical review”. “Beyond the recounting of the epidemiology, clinical manifestations and the history of Lyme disease/borreliosis, what facts there are largely represent selective interpretations and mis-representations of the literature”. “The authors in their judging of the literature appear to give the same – if not greater – credibility to such splinter groups as the International Lyme and Associated Diseases (ILADS) and the German Borreliosis Society as they do to an established professional medical society, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (and by extension other long-standing professional societies representing neurologists, rheumatologists, and paediatricians, among others, in North America and Europe)”.

These kind of comments from ‘unbiased’ reviewers were quite an eye opener. Raising the questions I have: why is this disease so different and why were the reviewers so angry?

Uphill battle

I am also quite surprised that so little effort and energy has been put into understanding the complex interaction of infection, inflammation and auto-immunity that seems to be present with these conditions, given that the disease was identified in the 1970’s and we really do have great scientific technologies to make groundbreaking discoveries for other infectious diseases.

When an immune system gets increasingly weaker, and these findings are clear from many of the patients I care for with these infections, people will suffer from multiple infections, be more susceptible to new infections, and be more at risk for reactivation of chronic latent infections they contracted many years before.

There is a wide body of literature about this phenomena for patients with other immunodeficiencies, HIV/AIDS, transplant patients on immunosuppression and the like. While doctors understand this well with other diseases, they do not accept this with chronic Lyme. Patients with Lyme get multi-system disease, and they appear to respond to not just treating with antibiotics, but also a series of interventions to boost their immune system and to decrease the inflammation. Unfortunately, the mechanism by how these ‘non-traditional’ treatments work is not well studied and not well documented in the medical literature, but they do work.

It is an uphill battle, dealing with this poorly understood condition and hugely politicised condition, but it is a battle worth fighting. I try to stay out of politics as much as I can and just try to get my patients better and to further the knowledge. Yet I have never seen the kind of obstruction of access to care and treatment options or the violent attacks on my colleagues in any other disease.

I call the Lyme Wars the “Lyme Paradox”: it simply doesn’t fit. Why would doctors and society work in such a non-compassionate way? There are theories as to why this is the case, as is presented in the recent lawsuits against the CDC, IDSA doctors and insurance companies. But all I can say is that it puzzles and disappoints me.

My best hope is that when my patients get better, they can join the “Lyme Wars” and advocate for better resources, knowledge and education. Or simply go back to their lives and be a good parent, sportsman or entrepreneurs; get on with their life as they were before they had the bad luck of running into a tick, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

HPV vaccine damage

I was asked by an Irish group called ‘REGRET’, which was formed by a group of parents after their teenage daughters became severely ill following their HPV vaccination, to see if I could help them. Some of these 10-12 year old girls became very unwell immediately after their vaccination, but some showed signs of severe chronic illness such as ME, Fibromyalgia and different neurological diseases years afterwards. They looked back and attributed it to the vaccination itself.

A number of these families consulted with me and I started to suspect what had happened. I stepped back and thought “What do vaccines do?” Vaccines stimulate the immune-system, no matter for what disease. I had also seen reactivation of infection in patients who had been on immunosuppressive agents, patients who had suffered major trauma and stress, and patients who had developed an immunosuppressive illness (i.e. viral illness, Chlamydia pneumonia, mycoplasma pneumonia) that had caused reactivation of a previously dormant infection.

In this select group of these girls I found that they had often low lymphocytes, aberrant lymphocyte markers, and evidence of a latent or sub-clinical prior Lyme or a co-infection, that was activated by the vaccine. They most importantly got better after antibiotic treatment. These were girls who had incapacitating illnesses for years, and were being labelled as ‘chronic fatigue’ and were being advised to go on ‘chronic fatigue’ protocols. I would love to better understand what got them healthy again, but I think it was the antibiotics that treated their Lyme and co-infections.

Of note, I have also seen patients report onset of illness in their children following the MMR vaccine or adults having health issues following a series of ‘travel vaccines’. So I feel the theory of ‘upregulation’ of infection following some kind of ‘immune perturbation’ is a reasonable hypothesis. When I did further investigation on these other patients, they also were found to have an underlying Lyme or co-infections, which responded to antibiotic treatment.

Vaccines are critically important for child and indeed world health; but based on my clinical observations, on a small number of patients who received vaccines, we should be studying these patients, not labelling them as being ‘psychiatric’ or putting them into the basket of ‘chronic fatigue’ and fibromyalgia.

Just because you cannot identify the cause, does not mean that there is nothing wrong with the patient. Maybe you just have not looked far enough, or maybe we don’t yet have the technology yet to make the right diagnosis. I think such labels are just alienating patients and families, and are frankly not helping anyone.

My view is that these diseases are very complex. You got an infection without knowing that it ever happened. You have or you develop a dysfunctional immune system that does not produce antibodies. You develop all these opportunistic infections with a large variety of clinical symptoms, joint, neurologic and psychiatric problems because of a low grade inflammation.

I think there are a lot of similarities to HIV: infection, inflammation and immunity all play a part. Lyme does not kill you as quickly as HIV did, but there are an awful lot of similarities. Lyme can kill you slowly, with progressive wearing down of the patient and their immune system and their psychological strength to be able to resist the infection and the rejection they are receiving from the medical community.


Recently I have had a chance to review the work of the ‘Ad Hoc Committee on Health Equity in Borreliossis ICD11 Codes’, which has submitted a dossier to the WHO providing them with over 260 references from peer reviewed articles, asking them to address Lyme in the same manner as Syphilis, in their report ‘Updating ICD Lyme Borreliosis codes’.

With other infections e.g. Leptospirosis infection, which is caused by a bacteria often excreted in rat urine, it is know that all organs in the body can be affected. It’s a bacteria which goes into your blood, it can go to your brain, to your eyes, kidneys, liver, heart. That is why infectious diseases are called multi-system diseases: they can damage lots of different parts of the body, depending on how they spread.

We got well described clinical conditions, of which Leptospirosis is just one. It’s a zoonosis, going from an animal to a human, it enters into your body and bloodstream and affects all the tissues of the body. It has been well studied and we understand all of the different clinical manifestations of this infection, but then we have laboratory technologies established to make a diagnosis.

Why we can’t apply the same science to Lyme I don’t understand. And why we can’t include all of the medical conditions that we do know Lyme can cause, outlined in the 260 references submitted by the ad Hoc Committee, and have them represented in ICD codes is a puzzle to me. With these codes we could better understand the extend of Lyme and complications in the world. Without these codes, Lyme does cannot be well catalogued, it’s worldwide impact cannot be understood, and it cannot be resourced and financed or reimbursed for care.

“It’s the virus, dummy!”

Many years ago, when we did not yet understand HIV very well and there were not good antiviral treatments, there used to be an effort in the NIH to promote immune modulation for HIV. It was meant to boost the immune system of patients, so it could better fight the HIV virus. The idea was to give HIV-positive people a vaccine for HIV to stimulate their immune system.

This was just a theory that scientists were using in the NIH. These efforts did not really work. When successful and powerful HIV antiviral tablets became available, the virus became suppressed, went into dormancy, quite damaging the lymphocytes that were being infected by HIV, the CD4 cells, and patients immune system recovered. Subsequently their immune system was ‘normal’ again and they quit getting all the opportunistic infections we used to see.

So that was the way to go, repair the immune system by knocking off the infection. Then the inflammation and autoimmunity settled down, and patients immune systems were able to fight the battle again.

I remember a director of one of the USA National Institute of Health Institutes standing up and saying “It’s the virus, dummy! We have to focus on the virus, treat and surprise the virus so it’s not doing any damage to the patient’s tissues and their immune system.”

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.

Of course, not every patient with a ‘garbage bag’ diagnosis has an underlying infection, but very often in such patients the thought of a possible infection is not even entertained.

As an infectious disease specialist, I often say “every medical condition is an infection waiting to be discovered”. Lots of discoveries – including Helicobacter pylori causing ulcers – support this view.

The puzzle

Everyone seems to have very strong opinions in this arena, an area with under-investment in research and also an underinvestment in kindness and compassion. Why patients can be left undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and not given the benefit of treatment with antibiotics, when the clinical scenario fits, is a puzzle to me.

Why the medical community is so angry is also a puzzle to me. They are angry against each other and angry towards the patients. It is a puzzle to me why the CDC, the IDSA, most professionals stick by old diagnostic technologies and do not embrace new technologies. New technology is being used for TB, but the same technology is discounted for Lyme (i.e. Elispot assays). And why they stand firm on their treatment guidelines, and try to enforce them in a rigid fashion.

Evidence based medicine, patient centred care, all of the jargon used in the field, don’t seem to apply with these conditions. The Institute of Medicine has reviewed the IDSA guidelines and find concerns, and years later ‘the band plays on’ without changing their tune. Maybe we need to critically look at all of the published articles in the field, and not just ‘cherry pick’ those that support our biases. And why should we in the medical community be so polarised anyway, as all this does is hurt the patient.

The only one that truly has a right to be angry, I believe, is the patients who has been wrongly diagnosed, and does not get the appropriate treatment in a timely fashion. And then, when they are getting better on the ‘non-traditional’ treatments, to be told that it was ‘all in their head’, and there is nothing wrong with them medically as the test is negative, or it is ‘post infectious’. It probably was’ all in their head’, as that is one of the favourite locations of the Lyme Bacteria!

It is simply puzzling to me why the medical professionals are not more willing to think outside of the box, when they don’t have a good alternative or a plausible explanation for a patient’s medical condition. We will need to start working together to solve this together.

Better science, better patient centred personalised medicine, a little more humanity.



I found myself saying, “Amen,” out loud a lot while reading this article.

Why indeed.  It’s what we’ve all been asking for 4 decades.

For more info on the HPV vaccine please see: as I include links in the comment section after the article.  Vaccines present a huge part of the puzzle for many if not most chronically ill people.  I would love to get Lambert, Masters, and Waisbren together in one room.  Something tells me they’d work together and figure this thing out.  Dr. Masters  Dr. Waisbren

I’d also put entomologists (preferably independent researchers who have Lyme themselves) such as John Scott in the same room.  The ones who aren’t afraid to go against the controlled narrative. Climate change is a bait and switch diversion to keep us from focusing on the important issues such as collusion, fraud, human right violations, what’s really behind tick proliferation (perhaps biowarfare experimentation?), the failure of managed medical care, and other messy issues.  It’s also a huge money-maker for research.  Just say, “Climate change,” and you are sure to get grants.  This fact comes across my desk on a daily basis.  Even journalist Mary Beth Pffeifer, who has done a fantastic job reporting on the Lyme/MSIDS epidemic, has fallen prey by following the money rather than the truth in her upcoming book Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change.

Tick expert, John Scott, who has volunteered some 30,000-plus hours as a citizen scientist and was awarded a Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in recognition of 27 years of research and advocacy on Lyme disease and tick populations in Canada, states:

“Climate change has nothing to do with tick movement. Blacklegged ticks are ecoadaptive, and tolerate wide temperature fluctuations. On hot summer days, these ticks descend into the cool, moist leaf litter and rehydrate. In winter, they descend into the leaf litter, and are comfortable under an insulating blanket of snow. Ticks have antifreeze-like compounds in their bodies, and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. For instance, at Kenora, Ontario, the air temperature peaks at 36°C and dips to –44°C, and blacklegged ticks survive successfully……ticks are marvellous eco-adaptors. They will be the last species on the planet.”

He also states:

“Any research on ticks and climate change is inconclusive––in essence, there is no validity. The long-range, futuristic projections and statistical models are bogus science because blacklegged ticks have already been found in northern Canada. In fact, we documented blacklegged ticks on migratory songbirds in northern Alberta dating back to 1998. Any allocation of government funding for ticks and climate change research is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money. It will not help Lyme disease patients one iota.”

There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth (who isn’t getting paid).

Lyme/MSIDS is spreading everywhere and it has ZERO to do with “climate change.” Do not be duped. The entomology maps of tick locations have been used for decades keeping patients undiagnosed and untreated. For a great article on how the Spielman maps have been an iron curtain keeping patients from getting tested:  (scroll to page 6 & 7 for details)

For a great article on why the research on Lyme/MSIDS is so incredibly biased:

How fake science has been happening right under our noses and continues unabated: and



Risk Factors For Tick Exposure

*Risk factors for tick exposure in suburban settings in the Northeastern
United States*
P. Mead,S. Hook, S. Niesobecki, J. Ray, J. Meek, M. Delorey, C. Prue, A.
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, online first 21 November 2017.


Prevention of tick-borne diseases requires an understanding of when and
where exposure to ticks is most likely. We used an epidemiologic
approach to define these parameters for residents of a Lyme-endemic region.

Two persons in each of 500 Connecticut households were asked to complete
a log each night for one week during June, 2013. Participants recorded
their whereabouts in 15 min increments (indoors, outdoors in their yard,
outdoors on others’ private property, or outdoors in public spaces) and
noted each day whether they found a tick on themselves. Demographic and
household information was also collected. Logs were completed for 934
participants in 471 households yielding 51,895 time-place observations.

Median participant age was 49 years (range 2–91 years); 52% were female.
Ninety-one participants (9.8%) reported finding a tick during the week,
with slightly higher rates among females and minors. Household factors
positively associated with finding a tick included having indoor/outdoor
pets (odds ratio (OR) = 1.7; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1–2.9), the
presence of a bird feeder in the yard (OR = 1.9; CI:1.2–3.2), and
presence of an outdoor dining area (OR = 2.2; CI:1.1–4.3).

Individual factors associated with finding a tick on a given day were
bathing or showering (OR = 3.7; CI:1.3–10.3) and hours spent in one’s
own yard (OR = 1.2, CI:1.1–1.3). Nineteen participants found ticks on
multiple days, more than expected assuming independence (p < 0.001).
Participants who found ticks on multiple days did not spend more time
outdoors but were significantly more likely to be male than those
finding ticks on a single day (p < 0.03).

Our findings suggest that most tick exposures in the study area occurred
on private property controlled by the respective homeowner.
Interventions that target private yards are a logical focus for
prevention efforts.


For more:


New Tick Discovered

November 21, 2017
PO Box 330
Trenton, New Jersey  08625-0330

Jeff Wolfe
P: (609) 633-2954
C: (609) 433-1785

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today announced the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa has confirmed the finding of an exotic East Asian tick, also known as the longhorned tick or bush tick, on a farm in Hunterdon County on November 9. Initial identification was made by the Monmouth County Tick-borne Diseases Lab, located at Rutgers University and the Hunterdon County Division of Health. This tick is not known to be present in the U.S., although there are records of at least a dozen previous collections of this species in the country on animals and materials presented for entry at U.S. ports.

The species (see photo above) is dark brown in color and grows to the size of a pea when fully engorged. Both larval and nymphal stages are very small and difficult to observe with the naked eye. Adult ticks are seen mainly during early summer, larvae from late summer to early winter, and nymphs mainly in the spring.

This tick is a serious pest to livestock (including cattle, horses, farmed deer, sheep, and goats), particularly in New Zealand, as well as wildlife, pets, and humans. Farmers should monitor their livestock for the presence of this tick and decreased growth rates or signs of anemia in the animals. With respect to livestock, the tick is known to transmit a disease called Theileriosis to cattle, which results in severe anemia and possibly death. There are no human health or food safety risks associated with Theileria. This tick also has the potential to spread other bacterial and viral diseases to humans and other animals.

The animals and the property where the tick was found have been treated to eliminate the tick. To determine if the tick has spread to nearby wildlife, ongoing surveillance is being conducted by the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in cooperation with Wildlife Services from the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia.

The potential impact of this tick on tickborne illness in New Jersey residents is not yet known. In other parts of the world, the bush tick has been associated with several tickborne diseases, some of which are found in New Jersey, such as spotted fever rickettsioses. The Department of Agriculture is investigating if the ticks found locally are carrying any potential pathogens that may impact human or animal health.

Some tick species may become less active in the winter; however, it is important to take steps to prevent tick bites whenever you are in areas where ticks may be found. Protect yourself, your family and your pets from tick bites by:

  • Knowing where ticks are: ticks can live in or near wooded or grassy areas or on animals directly.
  • Using repellent on skin: use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Always follow product instructions.
  • Treating clothing, boots and camping gear with permethrin.
  • Covering up by wearing long sleeves and pants when spending time outdoors and consider tucking pants into socks to prevent ticks from getting under clothes.
  • Showering as soon as possible after coming indoors to remove unattached ticks.
  • Inspecting your body for ticks and removing ticks immediately.
  • Treating your pets with veterinarian-approved products to kill or repel ticks. Products are available for domestic animals like dogs and cats, as well as for animals like sheep, goats and cattle.

State and federal animal health and wildlife officials are working to address these findings. Response efforts will include surveillance of the property and wildlife within the region. If necessary, tick treatments will be conducted to reduce the risks of spread. The primary goal is to eradicate the tick before it spreads to new areas.

Questions about livestock can be directed to your local veterinarian or the State Veterinarian at (609) 671-6400 during regular business hours.

This tick is a known pest in deer and has a wide host range, thus can infect a range of wildlife species. If the tick is detected in wildlife, then it should be immediately reported to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Wildlife Management at (609) 984-6295 or the Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics at (908) 637-4173 ext. 120.

For questions about tickborne illness in humans, contact your local health department ( or the New Jersey Department of Health during normal business hours at 609-826-5964

Note: Tick photo is courtesy of Jim Occi, Rutgers University

For more:  A multigenerational infestation was detected in August 2017 in a field and a single sheep in Hunterdon county, NJ, opening the possibility that the species may be established in the US. At the time of this writing in November 2017, we still do not have confirmation of establishment. Actions are being taken to both access the size of the infestation (which may require waiting until the spring) and contain it if the species survives the winter. The species has been intercepted on several occasions on animals entering the US, but has no known established populations in North America.