The world is currently caught up in a panic about Zika virus. We’re all probably correct to be concerned about its effects because it’s a serious disease, but why in America are we all up in a panic about a virus coming from other parts of the world when we already have a serious vector borne disease that is evident in epic proportions?
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US every year. That’s 1.5 times the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and six times the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year in the US. However, because diagnosing Lyme can be difficult, many people who actually have Lyme may be misdiagnosed with other conditions. Many experts believe the true number of cases is much higher.” (lymedisease.org)
The CDC currently reports about 30,000 new cases of Lyme Disease per year. They themselves admit this number is incorrect and predict that the number is closer to 300,000, and that number is continuously growing. However, it’s fairly likely considering the CDC’s continual denial of Lyme that the number is even higher. For example, the CDC barely even acknowledges that Lyme can be found in Texas and yet Texas A&M researchers found infection with B. burgdorferi in 45% of the collected I. scapularis ticks. This is in Texas, a state where there is one doctor that treats Lyme Disease. That’s one doctor in the whole entire state of Texas, population 26.96 million people.
The Lyme mess gets even better. The CDC has stipulated that only certain bands in the Western Blot test have to be positive in order for a Lyme test to be positive. The problem is that the specific bands for Lyme disease (which are bands 31 and 34), were excluded from the CDC criteria because they were used to create the Lyme disease vaccine, a vaccine that is not even available anymore. Additionally, the CDC testing criteria includes some bands which are not specific to Lyme disease, which increases the chances of a false-negative on the test. And yet they have managed to convince doctors that if someone tests positive it must be a false negative and if they test negative it’s because they don’t have it. How do I know this is a wide spread problem? Because I get emails from people every single day in which this exact thing happened. And these are only the people that figured out it happened and decided to look for more resources. How many people are out there who don’t know their doctor lied to them about their Lyme test?
There’s more. If not treated early and correctly, Lyme produces chronic disease that causes widespread pain, fatigue, heart and circulation problems, and neurological problems such as impaired memory and concentration. It destroys the entire body when not treated quickly, and yet Lyme patients see on average thirty doctors before they are diagnosed. Additionally an LDo published survey found Lyme had a worse quality of life than many other illnesses. Lyme patients had a lower worse mental health, and greater out of pocket medical expenses. Lyme Disease patients were found to have a worse quality of life then people with cancer. So it’s a really great disease to have.
It gets even better. Lyme Disease is not covered by insurance beyond one month of antibiotics (if you can even get that). In my own experience it took me TWO MONTHS to wrangle my insurance company to agree to pay for one month of IV antibiotics. This was even after I was lucky enough to have a CDC positive test. This was after I had been sick for years, and it took me months of arguing with them and getting shoved around to get that one month covered. In that one month I significantly improved, but it didn’t matter because I couldn’t get them to pay for any more and in the end I relapsed. Why isn’t Lyme Disease covered by insurance? Because it’s a political disease. I can’t even put a dent in the explanation of the convoluted special interests, money, and politics that have conspired together to hurt sick people. I suggest you watch the documentary “Under our skin” to get a better picture. It will nauseate you.
It gets even better. Lyme Disease and Syphilis belong to the same group of bacteria, called spirochetes. It has been found that Syphilis and Lyme Disease can penetrate our bodies much better than almost any other organisms. Spirochetes can cross impenetrable barriers. Syphilis and Lyme Disease bacteria can cross the blood-brain barrier to infect the central nervous symptom, unlike most other organisms. It is well known that Syphilis can also invade the placenta and infect an unborn child. And yet the idea the Lyme Disease can infect an unborn child is considered highly controversial. Scientists believe it does, and yet the CDC refuses to acknowledge the possibility. How many unborn children have been put at risk because of their denial? It’s a question we may never have the answer to.
I have not even begun to scratch the service of the problems with Lyme. I haven’t addressed whether or not it is sexually transmitted (it’s up for debate). I haven’t talked about how many people with a CDC positive diagnosis can’t find a doctor that is willing to treat them. I haven’t mentioned the harassment of doctors who treat Lyme patients to the extent that doctors are terrified to treat it. I haven’t talked about how the number of people with Lyme keeps growing and growing. I haven’t talked about how Lyme patients end of paying thousands and thousands of dollars out of pocket. I haven’t talked about how Lyme patients are vilified by the medical community for being crazy. I haven’t talked about how the CDC thinks ticks honor state lines making Lyme “impossible” outside Connecticut and New York. I haven’t talked about how the doctor mostly responsible for creating CDC guidelines think Lyme Disease symptoms are really due to “the aches and pains of daily living.” I haven’t talked about that even if you’re lucky enough to find a doctor to treat you, and you’re rich enough to pay out of pocket for treatment, it could take you years to get better. And you might not ever get better, you might be permanently disabled or you might die.
Am I concerned about the Zika virus? Of course. It has the potential to be devastating, and it has been devastating in other countries. However, it is incomprehensible to me how so many Americans can be worried about it when they haven’t noticed an equally serious disease that they are much more likely to contract. Lyme Disease is an ugly disease. It is a common disease that most people don’t even know is common. It’s a disease the medical community refuses to deal with. It’s a disease the government refuses to deal with. It’s a disease that has left an untold amount of bodies in its wake, and it’s already here.