The so-called controversy of Lyme disease is simple. On one hand, there is a sea of ignorance within the medical profession, and an ongoing denial by doctors that this tick-borne zoonosis exists. On the other hand, there is a concentration camp full of patients who can’t get prompt diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, the majority of patients become chronic, and can’t go to school or can’t work. The medical establishment refuses to accept the fact that the Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, sequesters and hides in deep-seated tissue, such as ligaments, tendons, bone, brain, eye, and scar tissue. This stealth pathogen is persistent in the body, and is hard to treat. Even though persistence was not mentioned, it is the overriding stumbling-block.
Drs. Tara Moriarty and Todd Hatchette claim that U.S. Lyme disease testing is inferior to Canadian testing. Such a statement is completely unfounded. I wrote to both Hatchette and Moriarty, and asked them to provide peer-reviewed scientific references to substantiate their statements. I did not receive an affirmative reply from either one. I, therefore, conclude that their statements about testing are invalid. Also, Hatchette and Moriarty purport that there is nonstandardized testing in the U.S. clinical labs; however, without journal references their proclamations are groundless. All clinical laboratories in the U.S.A. are CLIA-approved, and must follow rigid protocol and strict guidelines. When Hatchette and Moriarty condemn U.S. testing, they give themselves permission to ignore sick patients, and cast them overboard. Denial is the easy way out. These professionals get paid regardless of what they say or do. Most significantly, peer-reviewed scientific literature clearly shows that U.S. Lyme disease testing is superior to Canadian testing. Not only are Drs. Hatchette and Moriarty spreading unsubstantiated propaganda about Lyme disease testing, they are victimizing very sick Lyme disease patients.
Regardless of whether Lyme disease testing is conducted by government-funded labs or for-profit companies, there is still the cost of test kits, supplies, wages, and overhead expenses. Ironically, test kits used in Canada are produced in the U.S.A. As Dr. Moriarty admits, the two-tier Lyme disease serology test, which is the standard test in Canada, is woefully unreliable. In reality, “false positives” for Lyme disease Western blot and immunoblot are rare.
Contrary to the article, blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis, were first reported at Bracebridge, Ontario in 1904; they were removed from a human.
The article states that ticks must be attached for 36 hours to transmit the bacterium to humans. However, when the salivary glands of ticks are infected, Lyme spirochetes can be transmitted by blacklegged ticks in less than 16 hours. In fact, the Powassan virus (a deadly virus) and Babesia (a malaria-like pathogen) can be transmitted in less than 15 minutes.
Counter to the article, a warmer climate does not facilitate rapid spread of blacklegged ticks in Canada. Our tick research clearly shows that warmer winters hamper the overwinter survival of blacklegged ticks. Without snow cover, a sudden overnight drop in temperature will markedly decrease survival. These ticks are eco-adaptive, and normally survive temperatures ranging from -44°C to +36°C at Kenora, Ontario. In the winter, they survive in the cool, moist leaf litter under an insulating blanket of snow. In actuality, public awareness and increased tick submissions propel local tick numbers and, biogeographically, wild birds transport ticks to new locations.
John D. Scott, M.Sc., Research Scientist (Acarology)