To the Editor
Your article, Chronic Lyme Disease, a Dubious Diagnosis (December 8th) was one-sided, unbalanced and biased, and does a great disservice to the public and to the thousands who suffer from Lyme disease. As a journalist, I’m appalled by the lack of balance in this article and by the lack of basic scientific knowledge about the subject. Your reporters appear to have decided on their Lyme skeptical thesis in advance, and to have thoroughly ignored the many reasonable voices in the academic and medical communities who believe that chronic Lyme disease is a serious epidemic. The fact that a few charlatans have exploited the pain and ignorance of families and patients, or misdiagnosed some patients, does not in any way refute the many voices in the medical and scientific community who believe that chronic Lyme disease is a serious epidemic.
The fact that the authors dwell on the problem of a few patients misdiagnosed with Lyme, without a care for the thousands of patients with undiagnosed Lyme disease who are treated for other conditions, shows a pervasive bias. My son was treated for a variety of ailments over the course of two and a half years before he tested positive for Lyme disease. If we had discovered and treated the infection earlier his case would have been relatively simple to cure with a short course of antibiotics. Having a home in Eastern Long Island, which has one of the highest infection rates in the country, I have many friends and neighbors who have suffered from Lyme disease. Happily I know quite a few who have been brought back to health by a long-term treatment with antibiotics. Is long-term antibiotic treatment ideal? Of course not. But it is sometimes the only course of treatment for the elusive, invasive Lyme spirochete, which closely resembles that of syphilis.
The authors choose not to investigate the possibility that the health insurance industry has an interest in trying to narrowly define this disease, and to limit the cost and duration of covered treatment. This would have been a subject of genuine investigative journalism, but it’s far easier to caricature the Turn the Corner Foundation, which since its inception has raised several million dollars to advance research into Lyme. Your reporters seem to believethat everyone in the heartland will assume wealthy New Yorkers sipping cocktails at a benefit must be suspect. Therefore chronic Lyme disease must be a fraud. QED. That’s entertainment, but it’s not journalism.
New York, NY