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Letter to Forbes Magazine, unpublished

Posted Sep 12 2008 10:49am

Re: Health: Lyme Inc. Forbes Magazine
by David Whelan 03.12.07
Ticks aren't the only parasites living off patients in borreliosis-prone areas.

Dear Editor,

Neuro-Lyme, (persistent, chronic, active Lyme disease) is a burgeoning epidemic. My psychiatric practice has been filled with the unfortunate but previously misdiagnosed victims of tick-borne diseases for at least the last 10 years.

There are literally hundreds of high quality, peer-reviewed, easily obtained, scientific articles credibly attesting to the devastating persistence of this living spirochete-caused neurologic disease and its crippling effects on whole populations. However, instead of pursuing such research and presenting a balanced picture of the science, your reporter has cited only the Infectious Diseases Society of America, whose framing of the disease represents the most radically restrictive of all viewpoints in what is one of the more hotly-contested controversies in all of medicine.

For decades, physicians holding to IDSA's view of Lyme disease have turned away desperately ill patients by telling them they must be mentally unbalanced to imagine that they or their children are physically ill. These patients show up at my psychiatric practice crippled and in great pain, barely able to function. Only after receiving appropriate long-term antibiotic and immunity-enhancing treatments, usually far exceeding the IDSA guidelines, are their lives restored.

Alleged, inappropriate financial gain associated with some Lyme-treating physicians was alluded to in your reporter's poorly researched piece. IDSA authors, on the other hand, have documentable financial conflicts of interest that were never mentioned in your article. These include patents for a vaccine still under development in Europe and the US, financial interests in Lyme disease products such as test kits, and, most importantly, employment by the insurance companies that stand to lose money if the epidemic is acknowledged and paid for. The vested conflicts of interest of these authors are seldom revealed when they publish in their authoritative journals.

While these few exploitative yet influential academicians violate everything Hippocrates ever stood for, rank and file physicians stand by confused. In their impotency, they unknowingly are allowing this epidemic of tick-borne infections to grow exponentially.

Virginia T. Sherr, MD, DLFAPA

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