Unscientific persistent Lyme disease denialism, right here in Montréal

Following the terribly inaccurate opinion piece written about Lyme disease last weekend in the Montreal Gazette (on which I commented harshly), Jim Wilson of CanLyme wrote a rebuttal piece and asked for it to be printed. This is the response he got from The Gazette:

“(…) We do not plan to publish your oped piece.

While we strive for balance on our oped page on most issues, this is not
true concerning issues where the weight of scientific opinion is strongly
on one side. (…)”

winIt turns out the editorial page editor is sadly one who mistakes “scientific opinion” with “outdated totally unscientific (so pseudoscientific?) ramblings served to you by a shill with a medical degree”. This is exactly what is so dangerous about this situation: attention-seeking MDs come out and say outrageous false things and yet many see them as the side of “science”, and patients say the real things but are seen as nothing but “anecdotes” and our personal experience and knowledge isn’t valued at a penny (and you know, we’re all just unaware mysteriously sick people placebo-ing the hell out of our lives and stuff…). The facts are that patients have actually researched and read all the recent and relevant science (we want to get well!), we’ve shared our experience with dozens if not hundreds of other patients, those in the Lyme community agree on most points and we know far more on the matter than most conventional doctors, who have been programmed to just repeat the official medical lines and pass them off as their own educated opinion in such circumstances.

This is the world we live in, the fight and the struggle are very real…

Here is Jim Wilson’s excellent text, it’s worth a read.

Regarding the July 11th issue of the Montreal Gazette titled, “Lyme disease is very real, but it’s no epidemic” by Dr. Christopher Labos.  Some of the content is troubling and may cause your readers to lower their guard.

There is no evidence that 2 to 4 weeks of antibiotics is a cure for Lyme disease as indicated. In fact, several animal model studies support the opposite.  Lyme disease can persist as an active infection, even beyond 3 months of antibiotics.

The term Post Lyme Disease Syndrome is only a hypothesis. Why?  No one to date has been able to establish when it becomes “Post” Lyme Disease.

Dr. Labos indicates that because the infection cannot be found in the blood, it somehow indicates a lack of infection. In reality, it has been known for years that the organism disseminates quickly and easily out of the blood into other tissue.

Lyme Disease bacteria are showing up in the brain tissue of dementia patients in significant percentages along with other spirochaetal bacteria.  Lyme Disease is a spiral shaped bacteria called Borrelia, a spirochaete, and is a cousin of syphilis.  Lyme Disease is a borreliosis, caused by many genotypes of the bacteria, not only that which the too narrow Canadian tests detect.

Older clinical trials, which were referred to in Dr. Labos’ article, have long since been debated and shown to have serious design and methodology problems.  They should not be used to support any health care policy as they do not meet the quality requirements for strength of evidence. 

In testimony to federal government committees last year, Public Health Agency of Canada executives acknowledged that cases were seriously “under-diagnosed” in Canada, not “over-diagnosed” as Dr. Labos stated. Those senior executives are on record stating the 682 cases that were confirmed in 2013 are likely under-reported three fold, and that in 4.5 years from now we will have between 10 and 20 thousand cases per year. The United States, in 2013, upped their estimate from 30,000 to 300,000 cases per year, mostly in states that border Canada. Lyme Disease is pandemic and Canadians must arm themselves with knowledge of prevention.

Our ticks in Canada, especially in Quebec, come in on migratory birds such as your friendly robins, wrens finches, and sparrows in the tens of millions per season from the very highly endemic states below us.  Ticks carrying Lyme Disease are becoming established in regions throughout Canada randomly.

Tens of thousands of people have benefited from longer-term antibiotics.  Simply because mainstream medicine to date has refused to fund transparent clinical trials in collaboration with patient’s medical experts, it does not mean those tens of thousands of people’s stories are simply anecdotal. A few hundred people with a similar story could be anecdotal, tens of thousands of people are no longer anecdotal and aggressive study is required.  Taxpayers deserve better in Canada on the Lyme Disease research file.

The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation through its Venture Grants program is funding research in Canada.  We are working in conjunction with the G. Magnotta Foundation for Vector Borne Diseases to establish a research program using today’s most sophisticated science and technology to study human tissue to identify Lyme Disease and other diseases in all forms of human tissue.

Knowledge leads to prevention, and we all have the right to make ‘informed consent’ decisions with our doctor derived from accurate information. A negative Canadian test for Lyme absolutely cannot confirm you do not have Lyme Disease and you may not be cured with 4 weeks of antibiotics. Lyme Disease remains a clinical diagnosis based upon symptoms and history.”

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98,5 FM Radio Interview with Isabelle Maréchal (in French)

A few weeks ago, on July 3, 2015, I was invited to participate in a 30-minute radio interview with host Isabelle Maréchal on a province-wide radio program to talk about Lyme disease. The show also invited two other lymies (my friends) and gave us ample space to discuss the issue as we know it to be. We were thrilled at the quality of the work done by the interviewer and her willingness to get to the heart of things. We spoke of unreliability of tests, the need to test in the USA, the need for long-term treatment, the extent to which this illness is debilitating, the presence of coinfections, the difficulty of dealing with closed-minded doctors, etc. The main question/angle they tried to take was: More and more people from Quebec are getting sick from a tick bite and develop Lyme disease, why are they left to fend for themselves?

The full radio interview is here (in French): Des Québécois ont été contaminés par une tique et ont contracté la maladie de Lyme. Le nombre de cas augmente. Pourquoi sont-ils laissés à eux-mêmes?