Under Our Skin

by Rachel Gertz

Lyme disease. My uncle was just diagnosed.

Bet you’ve heard of it, but probably don’t know a lot about it.

We sat down to watch Under Our Skin thinking we’d learn a bit about the neurological effects, but we weren’t prepared for these facts…

  • Did you know Lyme Disease was first recognized in the 80’s, and there are more diagnosed cases in America than of AIDS or West Nile combined?
  • Misdiagnosis often occurs, meaning patients suffer with the disease for years while on a cocktail of unhelpful drugs. They are often told they need psychological help because no clear cause for their symptoms can be established
  • The disease has spread all over wooded areas throughout the US and Canada as well as all other continents and 10 more cases each day are being reported
  • It’s a spirochetal bacteria that is similar to syphilis that invades your body after a tick bite (meaning it can burrow easily through your tissues and organs), even through placenta tissue and into your fetus
  • The symptoms range from tremors, headaches, and neck stiffness to organ failure, memory loss, paralysis, and death
  • The pain from Lyme Disease can be so severe that many patients express a desire to die
  • The bacteria that causes Lyme disease has been found in patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Alzheimer’s, MS, and other neuromuscular diseases. A study was done and 7 out of 10 Alzheimer’s patients had the bacteria in their brains which draws a strong link between this bacteria and degenerative disorders such as the above
  • Doctors on the Lyme Disease board in America (IDSA) receive funding from insurance companies and vaccine grants to print guidelines on managing the disease. They are currently under an Anti-Trust review
  • The board and many doctors do not recognize chronic Lyme Disease which refers to the long term prognosis of the disease
  • Those who recognize this prognosis treat the disease with heavy doses of intravenous antibiotics which may be needed for up to three years or more (the disease is as serious as hepatitis). The bacteria can actually intertwine with your own DNA, so it’s difficult to wipe out
  • There are only a handful of doctors who specialize in treating this disease and many of them are being sued by the IDSA board for malpractice because their treatment does not follow the above outdated guidelines. In other words, even though they’re saving patients from complications of the disease, they’re being forced out of the practice.
  • A little scary, huh? You might not think this disease could ever affect you, but as humans branch out into the wilderness (suburbs anyone?), we are more at risk for these bites. Nature’s got nowhere left to go, and unfortunately stats are on the rise.

Long socks and thick coats out there, okay?

To get the dirt about Lyme Disease, check out Under Our Skin or these other resources:


  • http://www.dhpe.org/infect/lyme.html
  • http://gonzagalawreview.org/2011/01/31/unprecedented-antitrust-investigation-into-the-lyme-disease-treatment-guidelines-development-process/
  • http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2011/apr/05/amid-medical-controversy-children-saved/
  • http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/usr/jake/mosaic/lyme.html