Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Big News From North Carolina

State officials in North Carolina are now saying that Lyme disease can be contracted in North Carolina.  The conclusion comes from four cases of Lyme infected patients who never left their home counties. Here's a great article in today's Raleigh News and Observer about the change in policy.

This is definitely a step in the right direction.  However this news has managed to boil up a lot of anger in me.  Why has it taken this long?  The  population of our state is approaching 10,000,000.  The CDC has collected reports of North Carolina residents being infected with Lyme disease.  While the numbers are low, it is estimated that the CDC is missing as many as 80% or 90% of actual cases.  How can all of these people test positive for Lyme disease if there are no ticks carrying Lyme disease in our state? 

The wife of a man that I work with was going down the path of  a breast cancer diagnosis.  Her tests were negative and she recalled a recent tick attachment.  Her doctor tested her for Lyme disease and she was positive.  She was bitten in North Carolina.  A woman that I know who lives in Kernersville was bitten several years ago near her home.  She was treated with a short course of antibiotics and was well for a few years before symptoms returned.  She was bitten in North Carolina.  This same woman was braiding her daughter's hair and saw an embedded tick in her daughter's scalp.  A bullseye rash developed at the site of the bite.  The child had also been bitten near her home in NORTH CAROLINA.

The Department of Defense did a study of ticks removed from service members at various military installations mostly in the Eastern United States.  The ticks were tested for Lyme disease.  The highest rate of tick infection was at the Marine base Camp Lejuene.  Camp Lejeune is in North Carolina.  

One of the justifications that officials sight in denying that Lyme exists in our state, refers to a study done in Georgia that analyzed ticks found on reptiles.  In the case of one species of lizard, it was found that there was an enzyme in the lizard which was effective at cleansing their bloodstream of the Lyme bacteria.  Supposedly this eliminated the risk of infection for humans.  However, another study done in South Carolina found that another lizard species, that had ticks attached, had a 50% infection rate with borrelia.

One of the reasons that a Lyme diagnosis is often dismissed is that the tests are so innaccurate.  Unfortunately many Lyme infected patients test negative with the current tests.  Doctors in North Carolina see these negative tests as an absolute negative.  Lyme tests don't test for the presence of the Lyme bacteria.  They test for your body's response to it's presence.  The Lyme bacteria employs several tactics to evade the immune system.  This minimizes the body's immune response.  This article is the most concise one that I've found that talks about the various evasive tactics of borrelia.

Tom Grier is a Lyme patient with an education in microbology.  Although he addresses very scientific information, he has a way of writing about it that is more accessible to the layman.  For a little more detail of some of Lyme's evasive tactics as well as more indepth information about Lyme disease that bucks IDSA ideology, check it this great article.

I'm hoping that this news will change the ways of physicians like Dr. Robert Kelly of Maplewood Family Practice in Winston-Salem and Dr. Melanie Adams of Forsyth Pediatrics in Winston-Salem and Dr. Michael Blocker in Burlington. Dr.  Kelly saw Lynette and was sure that Lyme is not an issue in North Carolina.  Dr. Adams and Dr. Blocker were both aware of Anna's positive Lyme test and dismissed it.  Dr. Adams was glad that we don't have to worry about Lyme in North Carolina.

There is still a lot of pushback from the IDSA.  They are the ones responsible for the heavy handed tactics that enforce doctor's denials of Lyme and it's chronic form.  There is no doubt that the IDSA is behind the effort to shutdown doctors who treat Lyme aggressively including Dr. Joseph Burrascano in NY, Dr. Ernie Murakami in British Columbia, and Dr.Joseph Jemsek in South Carolina, who is in the process of relocating his practice for the second time in 3 years.  We have a long way to go. But we are moving in the right direction.

1 comment:

  1. About 2 weeks ago I had to go to the ER for the first time since my official Lyme diagnosis. I went to Baptist rather than Forsyth hoping for a better experience. Forsyth is where I originally went 9 years ago and only received one week of antibiotics. The first doctor that saw me just looked at me like I was crazy and wanted to know "what makes you THINK you have Lyme?" The second doctor that came in started asking me all kinds of questions. Wanting to know who my doctor was and where they were located. He was making me nervous and I tried to be evasive with my answers. So all of a sudden his face lights up and he tells me he did his residency in Northern Virginia where they saw all kinds of Lyme and he is very familiar with it. I was about to be very excited when he continued with "Good thing we don't see any of that in North Carolina" (sigh) We have a long way to go. As always, thanks for your great posts!