Sam Telford from Tufts talks tough on ticks at Chilmark meeting

Even though it was a gorgeous, late summer afternoon, ready made for recreating, a good number of up-Islanders were inside the Chilmark Community Center last Friday, attending a discussion on tick-borne illness, sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Boards of Health Tick Borne Disease Council (TBDC).

The TBDC is made up of Island board of health members, physicians, and health and environmental management professionals whose mission is to educate Islanders about prevention and early recognition of tick-borne diseases.

Given that four days earlier the Center for Disease Control made the stunning announcement that Lyme disease is ten times more prevalent than previously estimated, the timing of this TBDC talk at ground zero couldn’t have been better.

“There should be a thousand people here,” said Aquinnah resident Sondra Mekonian. “I know so many people with Lyme, even my dog had it. It’s scary.”


by Barry Stringfellow | The Martha’s Vineyard Times | August 28, 2013


This is great. Compliments to the Island Boards of Health TBDC. Mr Millette’s work is persuasive and Mr Telford’s tick life-cycle thoughts are accurate, instructive and helpful.

There are two controversial statements here which would benefit Islanders to illuminate. The first is the questionable efficacy of two-doses of doxy and the second is the questionable efficacy of vaccination in the case of complicated and UNDETECTED and poorly understood multiple tick-borne infections.

First, the two-dose of doxy is not well supported by science nor by common sense. It originated in the well-known “Prophylaxis Recommendation” of the questionable IDSA Guidelines — Recommendation #2 (these are the misleading treatment guidelines from the doctors’ lobbying group which Senator Blumenthal requested be struck down on the basis of anti-trust concerns).

Dr Elizabeth Maloney authored a paper in 2009, “Challenge to the Recommendation on the Prophylaxis of Lyme Disease”, which outlines and underscores that the original study used by the IDSA to support the concept of a two-dose of doxycycline does nothing to prove the hypothesis.

Challenge to the Recommendation on the Prophylaxis of Lyme Disease

Dr Maloney asserts that the quality of evidence is poor to support the assertion that two-dose of doxy can help prevent Lyme infection. Moreover, the IDSA concerns itself in its treatment guidelines with “Lyme Disease” (Lyme borreliosis) — which it defines too narrowly to include Chronic Lyme. And what about Bartonellosis, Babesiosis, Erlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Mycoplasma — the most common co-infections on the Cape and Islands? The IDSA is mute in this area.

The concern with two-dose of doxy is that its impact on infection may be superficial, leaving the deeper part of an infection to fester and go chronic. Also, two-dose of doxy can dampen the immune system’s antibody response such that, in the case of a significant infection, a Lyme test will render false negatives in the crucial early months, after which it gets very difficult and more and more expensive to combat a chronic complex of infections.

Secondly, the problems with the Lyme vaccine are self-evident in the first version’s immediate removal from the market. Mr Telford’s implication that we should draw comfort from a peer-review study this time around is bizarre. Peer-review fails us at every level throughout the the history of Lyme.

Lymerix failed originally not necessarily because the vaccine was inherently bad, but because a large number of already-infected people very likely received it — so great is the number of people walking around the Cape and Islands with dormant or unrecognized symptoms and true chronic infections. The problem with Lymerix two-point-oh is that the people who originally brought you Lymerix HAVE NO COMPREHENSION OF AND PROFESS NO INTEREST IN the complexity of Lyme borreliosis and the co-infections, and seem more interested above all in their denial.

Said IDSA Guidelines co-author Dr Gary Wormser, “Right now, in the published literature, there is no evidence of persistence in humans, and if there were I would say, `So what?’ You would have to show me that the spirochetes continue to produce disease and you would have to show me that they would respond to antibiotics.” (“The Lyme Wars”, by Michael Specter, “The New Yorker”, July 1, 2013)

On the questions of two-doses of doxy and on the new Lyme vaccine, it is important to understand the landscape in which these are being proposed and the history of misdirection and disinformation which have made a challenging ecological development into a major health and economic catastrophe.

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