Conspiracy theories about Lyme disease are prevalent on the internet. The pseudoscience propaganda film Under Our Skin helps feed these conspiracy theories.
In response to Science-Based Medicine’s Under Our Skin review, a commenter who goes by Elizabeth wrote the following:
Hope all of you idiot deniers get Lyme Disease. Until you or someone you know has lived this nightmare, shut up.
This type of comment is so common from victims of chronic Lyme quackery, that “Wishing that those skeptical of chronic Lyme disease be bitten by ticks and get a disease” is listed on our Red Flags page.
Of course, nobody wants to get an illness, even if it is something as easily cured as Lyme disease. In addition, tick bites can cause infections other than Lyme disease which can be more severe.
And in some cases, symptoms like facial palsy and arthritis can persist after a real Lyme infection. These symptoms, sometimes called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS), often fade with time. And for arthritis, there are effective treatments as well, but long-term antibiotics have been shown not to be effective.
Most people diagnosed with “chronic Lyme disease” never had Lyme disease in the first place but have been misdiagnosed.
In response to Elizabeth’s rude post, “Nell on Wheels” wrote the following:
Hope all of you idiot deniers get Lyme Disease.
I did. Here’s my lovely erythema migrans rash:
So have several friends, neighbors, and relatives because we live in an endemic area and most of us spend a lot of time outside gardening or engaged in outdoor activities. We check ourselves, our kids, and our pets for ticks when we come in from those activities and we know how to remove them. Our dogs are vaccinated against it, and most of us would welcome a vaccine for humans.
Doctors around here are very familiar with recognizing and treating it — in fact, even in the absence of the rash or history of a tick bite they test for it when you come in with symptoms that might indicate Lyme (fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes) or lingering symptoms typical after an acute episode because it’s so prevalent.
Unfortunately, we also have far too many “Lyme literate” doctors who are willing to diagnose anyone with “chronic Lyme” based on bogus tests.
I’m sorry you’re suffering, but wishing your pain and suffering on others — whatever the cause — is counterproductive to engendering sympathy and support.
Diagnosing “chronic Lyme” is also counterproductive as it complicates and delays discovering what’s really the cause of symptoms and subjects people to unnecessary and sometimes dangerous, not to mention expensive, treatments.
More stories of real Lyme patients:
New York Times: My Son Got Lyme Disease. He’s Totally Fine
LymeScience: Real Lyme patient: Stop spreading nonsense
Infectious Diseases Society of America: Lyme disease videos (see first video)