I applaud Carol Ann Moorhead's article "Repellant" (April 28) examining Lyme disease. However, it overlooks several important debates in Lyme research. 1) Many studies show that Lyme bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb)) can be transmitted congenitally. 2) Bb also survives blood processing; thus, most blood centers refuse Lyme donors or those having related treatment within one year. 3) Perhaps most hotly debated, and currently deemed inconclusive, is a clinical study that shows the sexual transmission of Bb in laboratory animals and numerous other studies finding Bb present in sexual fluids. The public deserves to know of these debates.
Despite how Lyme spreads, often those who suffer from it don't even know they have it. Besides Bb's ability to masquerade as other chronic illnesses, it's often masked in blood tests too. Even IGeneX, one of the nation's leading Lyme laboratories, claims about 30 percent error rates. All this adds up to Lyme disease being one of the fastest growing, yet often denied, infectious diseases in the world, beating even cancer and AIDS. (For a REAL eye opener, watch "Under Our Skin" on KEET TV, May 15, 9:30a.m.). If one is "lucky" enough to be accurately diagnosed, most Lyme specialists' treatments (longer antibiotic runs, homeopathics or oxygen therapy) aren't backed by the CDC/IDSA and thus aren't covered by most health insurances. Expensive treatments are paid out of pocket, and if one's money runs out before the treatment is successful, it means a return to extreme disability.
Locally, hundreds, including me, are disabled by Lyme and struggle to pay for treatments. In my so far year-long battle with Lyme, the fear of not knowing if I can afford to get well has plagued me often. There is a flicker of light in this darkness, however. Our community has begun to answer the Lyme distress call. If you want to help, contact the Humboldt Lyme Awareness Group (707-825-7835); local Lyme expert doctors, such as Beverly Copeland (707-840-0556); or Humboldt Area Foundation's "Angel Fund" (707-442-2993). If you have Lyme disease, www.humboldtlymedisease.org is a good resource.
CM Phillips, McKinleyville