Bay Area Lyme Foundation is one of the first sources of information I found when I was finally diagnosed. I realized through the years that only a few resources could always be relied upon for accurate information based on scientific research. I also feel connected to BAL because I was bit in California by a tick that carried Lyme, Babesia, Bartonella, Erhlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and more. I have always trusted their information for over a decade now. What they do and continue to do to help this community is something I will always be grateful for.
Creating an uplifting space for Lyme patients has been my dream since my first TV interview when a local station asked me to come on and share my story. Once on camera, I was filled with passion when given the chance to speak about my story, the injustices of Lyme disease treatment and getting a late diagnosis.
From there, people started reaching out to me needing help. I had kind of lost myself in my illness and slowly, through advocacy work, I gained a feeling that I can only describe as finding your true purpose. When I help someone, I have peace.
I found groups to be depressing and I knew the only way to have the group that best served a patient in the ways I needed was to create it myself. I wanted a solution based group that required all of its members to act with kindness. Alongside my own Lyme doctor’s methods, member polls and an accumulation of top resources, I finally was able to create the first Lyme Disease and Co-Infections Directory to cover almost any topic related to these diseases. An easy way for a patient to find the information quickly and learn. I feel the more we understand about these diseases, why we have the symptoms we have and how to help ourselves heal, we become more hopeful and empowered.
Lindsay Christensen is the author of the book, “The Lyme Disease 30-Day Meal Plan: Healthy Recipes and Lifestyle Tips to Ease Symptoms”. She provides nutrition consulting services at the California Center for Functional Medicine and her private practice, Ascent to Health.
In Puerto Rico, Donating Your Body to Science is Almost Impossible
Luisette Mauras Rodriguez is lying in bed at home in Guyana, Puerto Rico, waiting to die. She’s 46 years old, her body ravaged by Lyme, numerous tick-borne coinfections, and a multitude of other hits caused by environmental exposure to toxins like black mold, fungus, mycoplasma, and chikungunya virus. Family members do not understand her illness and laugh at her ‘exaggerations.’ Her husband left her because he fears getting sick and his religious convictions cause him to question the validity of her condition. Her mother, formerly a registered nurse, has abandoned her to her fate. Whenever Luisette gets desperate for help and goes to the ER, they refer her to the psych ward saying her illness is fabricated.
A former professional lab technician who worked in pharmaceutical development with US companies like Wyeth, SmithKline Beecham, and IPR Pharmaceuticals, Luisette has one dying wish: to donate her body to the Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB) so that samples from her brain, joints, organs, and tissues will be used to fuel much-needed research into Lyme and tick-borne diseases. She has registered with the National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) in Philadelphia to have her body collected after her death, but as of writing this article, staff there are unable to find any medical professional on the island willing to partner with them to ensure this happens.
“We have been unsuccessful in securing anyone for recovery for the donor located in Puerto Rico. It has been very difficult getting anyone to follow up with us on top of the language barrier. We were trying to give the pathology department at the University time to get back to us but they seem to be very busy. The complexity of the recovery also makes it more difficult as well.” — Wauchita Green, Manager, Organ & Tissue Source Sites, NDRI, The National Disease Research Interchange
Dr. Steven Harris, a physician specializing in Lyme at Pacific Frontier Medical, was guest speaker as part of our Distinguished Speaker Series. His presentation on the complexity of tick-borne diseases is transcribed below to share his invaluable insights into novel treatment options for those living with chronic/persistent Lyme and other intractable infections that severely curtail patients’ quality of life, bringing hope and restoring health to many. Note: This transcribed presentation has been edited for clarity.
What is “Precision Medicine”?
“The concept of precision medicine, which is a growing area, is where we look at an individual and try to create a tailored plan for that person. I think many doctors wish that we could have a ‘cookbook’ approach to medicine that would work for our patients. But unfortunately, that approach doesn’t work. Luckily, here in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are doctors offering precision medicine including Dr. Sunjya Schweig in Berkeley, Dr. Christine Green, with us at Pacific Frontier Medical, and Dr. Eric Gordon, at Gordon Medical Associates in Marin and others. And thankfully, we have Stanford and UCSF (our local medical centers) that we work peripherally with. In addition, the Open Medicine Foundation is making great strides in understanding illness and Dr. Mike Snyder’s group at Stanford who are working on multi omics for chronic fatigue that track an individual patient’s data.
“These doctors are working in their own fields, not necessarily just tick-borne diseases, but our work overlaps. For example, the Snyder Lab multi-omic study involves genomics, epigenomics, metabolomics, where they are looking at tons of data and assimilating a lot of this different data to try to create treatment plans that work for the individual, because of the fact that a ‘cookbook’ approach doesn’t work for this group of chronic complex patients. For example, we look at someone’s multi-ome and the parts that make them up, including their microbiome, epigenome among many others, which is becoming a bigger and more exciting field. One of the practical aspects we try to determine is how to address an individual’s level of inflammation, the diversity of their personal bacterial flora, and how to help compensate for any deficiencies—or over abundances—that help contribute to disease.
Dr. Charlotte Mao is a pediatric infectious diseases (ID) physician with special focus on Lyme disease and associated infections. She received her medical degree at Harvard Medical School and did her pediatric and infectious disease training at Boston Children’s Hospital. Ticktective Video and Podcast Editor: Kiva Schweig.
New Study Finds American Dog Tick Populations Expanding into Colorado, and Identifies Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks in 5 More Counties Than Documented by CDC
Citizen scientists contributing to Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Free Tick Testing program assist in identifying ticks capable of carrying disease in Colorado
Portola Valley, CA, October 25, 2022—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced results of a study published in the November issue of the peer-reviewed journal Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases demonstrating that ticks capable of carrying diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and the neurotoxin that causes tick-borne paralysis, pose an emerging threat in Colorado. The results show American dog ticks are very much present in 16 counties in Colorado, where they were not previously identified by the CDC, and Rocky Mountain wood ticks are found in 38 of the 64 Colorado counties, whereas they had only been identified in 33 previously. The study leveraged several sources for the study, including ticks collected by citizen scientists as part of a free tick testing program offered by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.
“The critical takeaway from this study is that Coloradans need to take preventative measures against ticks when outdoors, such as tick checks, and doctors should be more vigilant for symptoms of tick-borne diseases including those carried by Rocky Mountain wood ticks and American dog ticks,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “This ecology study illustrates the power of leveraging citizen science, and we are grateful for the more than 20,000 ticks that were submitted to our national program and made this study possible.”
Conducted by researchers from Colorado State University and funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, the study aimed to quantify the current county-level distribution of Rocky Mountain wood ticks, Dermacentor andersoni, and American dog ticks, Dermacentor variabilis. The study evaluated data from ticks collected by citizen scientists and evaluated at Northern Arizona University as part of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Free Tick Testing program, distribution data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, veterinary surveillance at Oklahoma State University, and literature data.
Dr. Edward B. Breitschwerdt is the Melanie S. Steele professor of medicine and infectious diseases at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He is also an adjunct professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, and Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.Ticktective Video and Podcast Editor: Kiva Schweig. Click here for this podcast transcript.
Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist, political analyst and author, shares his findings on the state of Lyme research, public perception, and his personal experience with tick-borne infections. Previously he was a senior editor of The Atlantic. He is the film critic for National Review, and he co-founded the New York Times’s weekly op-ed podcast, The Argument. Ross’s most recent book is about his experience with Lyme disease and is called “The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery”.Ticktective Video and Podcast Editor: Kiva Schweig.
Dan Wolff “Tick Man Dan”, the founder and president of TickEase tweezers, the only patented, CDC-compliant, two-sided tweezer created expressly for removal of embedded ticks from people and pets.. He discusses his invention, what to do when you find a tick, ecology of ticks, and how Tony Fauci ended up at his bar mitzvah. Ticktective Video and Podcast Editor: Kiva Schweig.
Daniel Kinderlehrer, MD is the author of Recovery from Lyme Disease: The Integrative Medicine Guide to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Tick-Borne Illness. He is also the author of several review articles in medical journals and the Lyme Times. Dr. Kinderlehrer attended Tufts Medical School and is an internal medicine physician. He co-founded the New England Center for Holistic Medicine and has a private integrative medicine practice in Denver, Colorado, where he treats patients with tick-borne illnesses. Ticktective Video and Podcast Editor: Kiva Schweig.