PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif. — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, an organization dedicated to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is deeply disturbed by the news that researchers involved in the initial discoveries of Lyme disease omitted critical information related to additional bacteria that may have contributed to illness in early cases. This information was revealed in a story today in STAT News titled “The ‘Swiss Agent’: Long forgotten research unearths new mystery about Lyme disease.”
This new development clearly points to a critical need to reexamine much of the current orthodoxy in Lyme disease.
As current diagnostics in the United States do not test for the “Swiss Agent” specifically and there are many unresolved challenges in Lyme diagnosis and treatment, it is unclear how prevalent this pathogen may be among Lyme patients and the impact of this bacteria.
We are not aware of any research or awareness programs in the U.S. that focus on the Rickettsia helvetica, the tick-borne disease highlighted in the story as the “Swiss Agent”, and we agree with the prominent researchers quoted in the article who note that this warrants more research.
As an organization started by families with members who have Lyme disease, our hearts go out to all people who have tick-borne diseases of any kind, diagnosed or undiagnosed, and we hope that the current series of events is a call-to-action for the CDC and the NIH to pay more attention to these diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and illness caused by Rickettsia helvetica. We have seen lives destroyed by the impact of tick-borne diseases.
We hope and expect that more urgent attention will be paid to this new pathogen to assess its prevalence and burden in the United States.
Over the past 5 years, we have been encouraged by the growing interest among researchers in Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, including an increase in applications for our Emerging Leader Award and other grants, and attendance at Lyme Innovation. We will continue to try to better understand these diseases and appreciate collaboration from organizations such as the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation and the Laurel Foundation, as well as researchers and clinicians from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Tulane University.
About Tick-borne disease
There are more than 15 known tick-borne diseases in the United States. Tick-borne diseases are potentially debilitating infections caused by pathogens transmitted through the bite of an infected tick to people and pets. The most well-known of the tick-borne diseases is Lyme disease. There are approximately 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics published in 2015 by the CDC. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated, but it is commonly misdiagnosed due to lack of awareness and unreliable diagnostic tests. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, as many as one million Americans may be suffering from the impact of its debilitating long-term symptoms and complications, according to Bay Area Lyme Foundation estimates.
About Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is the leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US. A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme collaborates with world-class scientists and institutions to accelerate medical breakthroughs for Lyme disease. It is also dedicated to providing reliable, fact-based information so that prevention and the importance of early treatment are common knowledge. A pivotal donation from The Laurel Foundation covers all overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs. – PRNewswire