Every year when summer is right around the corner, ACSH typically provides health and safety tips that are practical and useful.
We also occasionally debunk junk science and medicine.
Today, you get two for the price of one.
Lyme disease is a significant public health problem, especially in warm weather. It is transmitted by deer ticks, but, despite the name, the primary vector of the disease is the white-footed mouse.
The infection is curable, but if undetected or untreated can cause significant medical problems, including joint pain, and neurological problems that affect both the brain and face. In extreme cases, the infection can cause arrhythmias, inflammation of the liver and eyes, and severe fatigue. It is nothing to mess around with.
(Note: Doxycycline the first line therapy for Lyme has it s own set of issues. ACSH s Josh Bloom wrote a 2104 piece on Science 2.0 that discussed what happened when all the manufacturers of doxy a 50 year old, very inexpensive drug except one stopped making it. The price went up 10,000-fold.)
The real issue here, is that it has been shown very convincingly that there is no such thing as chronic Lyme Disease. Yet, many people are unaware of this. This is very good news for the quacks that prey upon those with vague, nonspecific symptoms, who are convinced that whatever is making them feel unwell is chronic Lyme.
For anyone willing to listen, the evidence of sheer quackery that is used to separate patients from their money is the topic of a new study that will be published in the June 15 issue of the Journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
This is discussed in advance in an article in the May 26 Globe and Mail, which reveals some of the tactics that quacks use to treat a non-disease. They are beyond horrifying, including drinking one s urine, magnets, and beaming light through the skin.
Dr. Bloom wonders, Why Tarot cards, Santeria, fuzzy dice, and knocking on formaldehyde-free wood are not mentioned escapes me. But it took me about a nanosecond to find even worse 'treatments', thanks to the bastion of misinformation (Crazy) Joe Mercola. An article on his website discusses some "cures" that, even on my most deranged day, I couldn t even imagine.
He continues, If you want to keep reading, have the Maalox ready. Some alternative therapies in the article include getting rid of your microwave, painting your house with a graphite-based paint, and using silver coated curtains to protect you from radiation, the use of Energy Psychology tools, including psychokinesiology, whey protein, and the use of a tincture of Native American herbs. This stuff is crazier than anything I could come up with which is a pretty high bar since I am one step away from electroconvulsive therapy on a good day.
Lead author Dr. Paul Lantos, of the Duke University Medical Center described some of the upcoming paper: In the authors collective experience many patients have reported spending thousands of dollars on office-based purchases of nutritional therapies alone.
What's the answer? That s an easy one former ACSH trustee, and public health hero Dr. Paul Offit, the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases the Children s Hospital of Philadelphia. He's the one.
Dr. Offit s 2013 book Do You Believe Magic the Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Harper, New York, 2013) devotes an entire chapter to debunking chronic Lyme. (HIGHLY recommended.)
Example: In 1993, the Centers for Disease Control, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Health, investigated an unusual outbreak in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Twenty-five people, mostly young girls, had had their gallbladders removed. All had been treated for months to years with intravenous ceftriaxone, an antibiotic known to cause gallstones. Although Lyme Literate doctors had diagnosed chronic Lyme, most of these children didn t have any evidence of Lyme infection. Patients given long-term antibiotics for chronic Lyme have also suffered antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, severe allergic reactions, and bone-marrow suppression.
Who do you believe?