Saturday, June 30, 2012

Watch: Lyme Disease Panel Discussion

By WBUR Newsroom June 28, 2012

In conjunction with our special Lyme disease series, WBUR hosted an expert panel to discuss prevention, coping with the disease, and changing our thinking and behavior as tick-borne diseases become more prevalent. Re-watch the discussion here:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Antibiotics are widely used by U.S. meat industry

Why should our LLMD's be accused of over-prescribing antibiotics when we are just a drop in the bucket?

From Consumer's Union

Our investigation finds that shoppers have lots of ‘no antibiotics’ choices, but they have to learn how to decipher product labeling

Published: June 2012

Many U.S. grocery stores now offer at least some meat or poultry that is raised without antibiotics, sometimes even at below-average prices for all meats of that type, but shoppers must become savvy about reading labeling to get products that live up to “no antibiotics administered”-type claims, according to new research from Consumer Reports.

The declining effectiveness of antibiotics has become a national public-health crisis, leading doctors and scientists to call for much more careful use of antibiotics so that disease-causing organisms don’t become immune to them. But since approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used by the meat and poultry industry to make animals grow faster or to prevent disease in crowded and unsanitary conditions, both supermarkets and consumers can have a major impact on this problem through their purchasing decisions.

Read more:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gibson amendment on Lyme disease passes House committee

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 2:07 AM EDT
The House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment Tuesday that
recognizes the negative impact Lyme disease is having on communities across the United States.

The amendment, offered by Appropriations Committee Member Frank Wolf, R-VA on behalf of Congressman Chris Gibson, NY-20, acknowledges both the necessity of ongoing research efforts to combat tick-borne illnesses as well as encourages the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) to maintain its efforts related to Lyme.

The amendment also urges ARS to consider the human and economic impacts of Lyme disease.

Congressman Gibson recently served as the Honorary co-chairman of the “Lyme Next Forum” that was held at Skidmore College on May 21, which brought together more than 500 attendees with national leaders on Lyme Disease.

“I have heard firsthand from family, friends, and constituents about the impact Lyme disease has had on their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Particularly in Upstate New York, where the incidence of Lyme is among the
highest in the country, it is imperative that we improve the ways we detect and care for individuals suffering from tick borne illnesses. This amendment is the next step in our continued efforts to improve federal support for Lyme disease research, and I am pleased the Appropriations Committee recognizes the importance of this work,” said Gibson.

Congressman Gibson is also an original cosponsor of legislation introduced
last year that is designed to focus attention on issues surrounding Lyme
and other tick borne diseases.

H.R. 2557, the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and
Research Act of 2011, establishes an Advisory Committee to address the issue at a national level.

He also supported $8.7 million in funding for FY 2012 that is dedicated to
Lyme disease research and advocacy.

The amendment text is as follows:

‘‘Lyme Disease Research—The committee recognizes the importance of the
ongoing research efforts of the ARS regarding tick-borne illnesses.
As the agency continues to build upon its research efforts and protect
humans and livestock from tick-borne illnesses, the committee encourages the ARS, in conjunction with other agencies, to maintain its efforts and consider both the human and economic impacts of Lyme disease on communities in the United States"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease

NY Times
June 18, 2012, 3:00 PM
Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease

Deer ticks are aptly named, in a sense; a Northeastern deer can carry over 1,000 of these ticks on its body. But as far as humans are concerned, the ticks might be more relevantly called mouse ticks. That’s because white-footed mice and other small mammals, not deer, are now known by scientists to be major carriers of Lyme disease.

The white-footed mouse
(Bruce Museum Collection)

Lyme disease is spreading in the Northeast and the Midwest, and according to the national Centers for Disease Control, the number of annual cases over the past decade has been increasing. However, no one is quite sure why. In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers tried to figure out what is driving the proliferation of Lyme disease in human populations by studying populations patterns in animals that interact with ticks. Their study suggests that large predators like coyotes and foxes that aren’t typically associated with Lyme disease transmission may have a big impact on the spread of the disease.
Read rest of article:

Location:Berkeley, CA

Sunday, June 17, 2012

FRONTLINE: my father, my brother, and me: watch the full program

Entire Frontline piece (56 mintues) about living with Parkinson's disease. Produced by Dave Iverson. 

In 2004, FRONTLINE correspondent Dave Iverson received the same news that had been delivered to his father and older brother years earlier: He had Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neurological disorder that affects more than 1 million Americans, the causes of which remain largely unknown and the cure for which has proved frustratingly elusive.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Researchers identify predictive biomarker for Parkinsons disease

Because there is currently no laboratory test that can diagnose Parkinson's disease, it is practically impossible to detect those individuals who are in the earliest stages of the disease. As a result, Parkinson's disease can only be diagnosed by a clinical neurological examination based on findings suggestive of the disease.

But researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Faculty of Medicine have now identified a biomarker comprised of five genes shown to predict Parkinson's disease with high accuracy. The findings are reported in a research article now published online by the scientific journal Molecular Neurodegeneration....

Read full article:

People with early PD show increased arm swing

People with Parkinson's disease swing their arms asymmetrically -- one arm swings less than the other -- when walking. This unusual movement is easily detected early when drugs and other interventions may help slow the disease, according to Penn State researchers who used inexpensive accelerometers on the arms of Parkinson's disease patients to measure arm swing....

Read article

Under Our Skin movie about Lyme seen widely

Here's the latest scoop on the success of the Lyme documentary that everyone interested in Lyme should see at least once

UNDER OUR SKIN: Lyme Awareness Month Roundup, DVD Price Drop
Community support is helping save lives one viewing at a time

With the Lyme disease epidemic unchecked and the medical-industrial complex failing those in need, UNDER OUR SKIN continues to open eyes and change minds. Last month was National Lyme Disease Awareness Month and, in honor of this, we created initiatives to encourage and support community screenings nationwide. Over 50 educational screenings took place in the one month. In addition, UNDER OUR SKIN was rebroadcast on public television stations 112 times in May, and there are an additional 33 airdates scheduled in June (including New York, LA, and San Francisco), bringing the film's total reach to 84% of the U.S. As a way to continue to support community engagement and widespread viewing of the film, we've dropped the price of our Community Use DVD to $79. We also have a number of new package specials on our online store. And, remember, we're always here to help you organize and promote your events, so stay in touch!‣ Learn more

X-Prize initiative for better Lyme testing

Check this out.

Announcing TBDA Diagnostic X Prize
X-Prize Logo
May 17, 2012: TBDA and X PRIZE Foundation Create "TBDA Diagnostic X PRIZE" Global Competition to Develop a Fail-Safe Diagnostic Tool for Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases

Click through for the full press release.


First Critical Step Toward Eradicating Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases
Which Have Emerged as Growing Public Health Crisis Worldwide
NEW YORK - May 17, 2012: The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA), a leading New York City-based nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness, promoting advocacy and supporting initiatives to find a cure for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme, has joined the X PRIZE Foundation, the leader in solving the world's grand challenges through large-scale, global incentivized competitions, to create the "TBDA Diagnostic X PRIZE," the first worldwide competition to develop a reliable diagnostic tool for Lyme and tick-borne diseases. The announcement was made at TBDA's first annual Gala in Times Square on May 16th.

TBDA's initiative with the X PRIZE will use the power of the private sector to raise the millions of dollars needed to tackle the complex issue of finding a reliable diagnostic tool for tick-borne diseases. Over approximately the next six months, TBDA and the X PRIZE will work with experts from around the world to develop a successful process to design a competition to incentivize researchers worldwide to help solve the problem of finding a definitive diagnostic tool for tick-borne diseases.
"TBDA is proud and excited to partner with the X PRIZE Foundation to seek to develop a break-through diagnostic tool which is the key to eradicating this terrible health problem," said David Roth, Co-Chairman of TBDA's Board of Directors and a Managing Director at Blackstone Real Estate Advisors. "Today, there is a worldwide need and demand for precise, effective tests that would be widely accepted by the medical community and available to anyone, regardless of location or financial means. 
"A reliable diagnostic tool will change the playing field – it will save hundreds of thousands of people from needless suffering and also present a solid foundation of facts to the medical community, government, business and insurance companies, which is needed for effective advocacy and fundraising to fuel research and promote public awareness," added Roth. "By working with the X PRIZE Foundation, TBDA aims to turn these diseases into relics from another era, just like polio, smallpox and tetanus." 
"We are proud to partner with the TBDA to develop a prize that will revolutionize diagnosis and improve treatments.  Together, we will stop this epidemic and save lives," said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation.
The TBDA and X PRIZE Foundation initiative serves as a crucial step toward eradicating Lyme and tick-borne diseases, which have emerged as a global public health issue with infections reported in nearly every U.S. state, throughout countries in Europe, as well as in Russia, China and Japan. In the US alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have singled out Lyme disease as the most common and fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the country. Despite the alarming escalation of Lyme and tick-borne diseases on national and international fronts, there are no 100% reliable diagnostic tools available at this time. Such diagnostic inadequacies and limitations can significantly hamper timely and appropriate treatment of the early stages of Lyme and tick-borne diseases, and also allow for ongoing misdiagnoses and ineffective medical protocols. 
Robert K. Weiss, Vice Chairman and President of the X PRIZE said, "X PRIZES are designed to attack market failures.  The lack of financial and intellectual capital going into effective diagnosis and therapies as well as the misperceptions surrounding tick-borne diseases make it a prime candidate for an impactful incentivized competition.  An X PRIZE would crowd-source innovation for rapid, reliable, standardized diagnostics and brings national attention to these devastating diseases."
According to Weiss, the competition for a reliable diagnostic tool for Lyme and tick-borne diseases falls under the X PRIZE Foundation's Life Sciences Prize Group, which stimulates innovative breakthroughs in molecular biology, stem cell research, bionics, organogenesis, synthetic biology, and artificial intelligence in order to improve health care, extend healthy living, and eliminate illness and disease.
For more information about the TBDA and X PRIZE Foundation partnership, visit and  

Dr Burrascano helps demystify Lyme on Australian TV

Here's a pretty sensible and balanced video on Australian TV about Lyme origins, a bit about Plum Island, and the existence of Lyme in Australia. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mysterious skin shedding

Last weekend I caught some rays down at the pool. I had been taking Rifampin for about a week at this point. I noticed after the pool that I had a weird-looking sunburn even after relatively little exposure. A few days later I had this skin peeling/sloughing situation you see here, only on my arms and legs. Nothing on my back or front torso, which were also exposed to the sun for the same amount of time. 

If you have had skin peeling during Rifampin usage, please comment.
Upper arm


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lyme wins award for most important bacterium discovery

The Medscape Awards in Infectious Diseases: The Most Important Discovery of a New Bacterium (1980-2012)

The Medscape Awards in Infectious Diseases
Medscape Infectious Diseases, 2012-06-01

You have to join up (it's free) to read the article, but it's worth it. You will get lots of other health news, too. You can also vote for a bacterium. Please vote for Borrelia. Perhaps we Lymies can tip the scales. 

What do you believe was the most important discovery of a new bacterium during the time period 1980-2012?
 Your Colleagues Responded:

1982: Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)

1982: Escherichia coli O157:H7 (hemorrhagic colitis)

1983: Helicobacter pylori (peptic ulcer disease)

1986: Chlamydia pneumoniae (atypical pneumonia)

1999: Bartonella henselae (cat-scratch disease)

2000: Tropheryma whipplei (Whipple disease)

2000: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (USA 300 strain)

2000: Clostridium difficile NAP-1 strain (C difficile epidemic)

Other: If not listed here, tell us about your choice in the Discussion