When I first read the study, I reviewed the phylogenetic tree carefully and was surprised to see the large number of B. garinii without so much as a comment in the paper. I thought at the time that this had many important implications. For example, its well known the B31 based antibody testing will not typically detect B garinii as was discovered in the 90's in Europe. That alone would have been big news, but the authors did not even mention it. All of the samples in the top half of the tree were B garinii. Its clearly shown and evident. I was also surprised that the table of polymorphic changes was only referenced to B burgdorferi B31 which seemed odd given half the samples begged for a B garinii comparison. Had another table compared polymorphic changes against B garinii, it would have clearly shown what was obvious from the phylogenetic tree. Either US researchers had missed B garinii being common in the US, or something was amiss.
http://www.medsci.org/ms/getimage.php?n ... type=thumb
I recall I was puzzled because I knew B garinii was routinely found in Europe and Asia but had never been seen in the US. It had been found once in ticks on seabirds from Gull Island, Newfoundland, but never in the US. This should have been a big red flag but I was so happy with the amazing results, I let my guard down. In addition to the new culture success, the ALS/Sapi group would have been the first to find actual human infections with B garinii in the US. This discovery would have been big Lyme ecology and epidemiology news. If it was true, it would have rippled everywhere.
Even if this study suffered from contamination, it doesn't mean the culture isn't good and useful. It just means the high sensitivity found in the study is meaningless and the whole study needs to be repeated with great care. Its a real shame because the errors in the study have given mainstream doctors a reason to distrust claims and concerns regarding Lyme. Its also a shame ALS has not said a word about it and even removed most of the culture information from their website. I know there are people who are unhappy when someone like me points out issues with the ALS culture study but I do believe most people really want the truth and be able to trust these crazy tests.
A culture is so obviously needed in the clinical setting but I'm afraid when the kinks are worked out, cultivable Borrelia will not be so easily found as has been seen with people taking the ALS culture test. I'm afraid those of us with chronic Lyme may have uncultivable Borrelia as has been seen in most of the animal studies. Lets hope ALS finishes their follow-up studies so we know how useful the culture really is. It would be a shame to give up now since the culture is by far the best way to study human Lyme infections if the uncultivable hypothesis is not correct.
Borrelia garinii in Seabird Ticks (Ixodes uriae), Atlantic Coast, North America
Although B. garinii is present in seabird ticks in a nearly circumpolar distribution in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (12,13), including Alaska, the presence of B. garinii in I. uriae ticks at sites on the North Atlantic Coast has not previously been documented. We sought to determine whether B. garinii is present in ticks obtained from colonial seabird nesting sites on the Atlantic Coast of North America.
Global ecology and epidemiology of Borrelia garinii spirochetes
The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism.
Attributed to William Osler, 1902