Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - Moment of discovery

Topics with information and discussion about published studies related to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
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inmacdonald
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Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - Moment of discovery

Postby inmacdonald » Wed 8 Feb 2012 19:12

To the members of the forum:

Dr Willy Burgdorfer granted and interview (which was supervised by staff from the
Rocky Mountain Laboratory , National Institutes of Health, NIAID)
Excerpts from that interview , concernng the circumstances of his discovery of
the spirocheal agent of Lyme borreliosis:


Excerpt from an Interview with Dr Willy Burgdorfer;

It was a “What in the hell? What’s in that smear?” And then my work [on relapsing fever] as a Swiss student came back. [I said to myself], “Willy, these are spirochetes!” The slide showed long slender forms, a little bit curved, and they were only in the mid-part of the tick. Nowhere else. There were so many people who said, “That is impossible Willie. You can’t get spirochetes out of hard-bodied ticks.” [But from my work on] relapsing fever ticks from Africa, I knew what a spirochete looked like. The Belgian Congo and Kenya are hotspots for relapsing fever. Even Livingston [the African explorer and Scottish missionary] was exposed, and he called it “tick fever.”

And [we] can’t even make a [blood] smear with Borrelia burgdorferi and see the organism. It’s there. But you don’t see it. You cannot find this spirochete. Why not? After all, I have a sick person here. He is trembling all over. His synovial fluid is full of spirochetes. But when it comes to blood, it’s not there. So there is something associated with this organism that makes it different. Andy Wilson: Why is Borrelia burgdorferi so hard to find in the body and culture outside the body? Dr. Burgdorfer: Borrelia burgdorferi in the tissues of a patient is extremely difficult to demonstrate, because, first of all, you don’t like somebody to take samples out of your brain [to look] for spirochetes. The same with other tissues. Every system in your body can be infected with spirochete. But to prove that is extremely difficult. It demands surgical work, which is very expensive Andy Wilson: Are you a believer in the idea of persistent Lyme infections? Dr. Burgdorfer: I am a believer in persistent infections because people suffering with Lyme disease, ten or fifteen or twenty years later, get sick [again]. Because it appears that this organism has the ability to be sequestered in tissues and [it] is possible that it could reappear, bringing back the clinical manifestations it caused in the first place. These are controversial issues for microbiologists, as well as the physicians who are asked to treat patients.
Link: Full text of the interview:
http://www.underourskin.com/news/lyme-d ... rsy?page=1
Note: Dr. burgdorfer's last comment (off camera after completion of filming of the interview)
.......
Soon after we turned-off the camera and began packing up our gear, Dr. Burgdorfer told us with a wry smile, “I didn’t tell you everything.”

Dr Willy Burgdorfer additional historical chronicle of discovery of the Lyme disease spirochete:
Link: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/lymedis ... cause.aspx

Henry
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Re: Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - Moment of disco

Postby Henry » Thu 9 Feb 2012 1:35

Was this the interview he also gave as part of the Jesse Ventura film?
Last edited by Henry on Thu 9 Feb 2012 2:08, edited 3 times in total.

Camp Other
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Re: Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - Moment of disco

Postby Camp Other » Thu 9 Feb 2012 2:27

Henry wrote:Was this the interview he also gave as part of the Jesse Ventura film?


It wasn't a Jesse Ventura film. This was an interview given by the director of Under Our Skin. I think it was a bonus on the DVD, if I'm not mistaken? Either way, I think you can watch it on the Under Our Skin web site.

Anyway, Henry, what do you think of the fact that Burgdorfer thinks that Borrelia burgdorferi can persist? I don't see this as controversial given that patients can be infected early on and be asymptomatic, only to show late stage symptoms out of the blue later on. It is a problematic situation for clinicians, pathologists, and patients.

I was not really pleased with the remark he made at the end of the interview. This sort of "I know something you don't know" statement was not helpful for me as a patient. If he knows something about this pathogen that would be beneficial to know, I find that remark off-putting rather than an amusing "tease".
Last edited by Camp Other on Thu 9 Feb 2012 6:37, edited 1 time in total.

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inmacdonald
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Re: Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - discovery

Postby inmacdonald » Thu 9 Feb 2012 3:45

Dr. Willy Burgdorfer's discovery and his candid interview describing the moment
of discovery:

Re: What did the original spirochete stained with Giemsa actually look like under the
microscope?

Response from A. MacDonald, MD: I have had the privilege of viewing Dr Burgdorfer's
original photomicrographs of the first Borrelia organism which he found in the tick
midgut dissection in 1981 In a lecture which he gave in 1983..
The profile of the original spirochete did not demonstrate regular "sine wave type"
spirals which is the profile that is found in textbooks.
Rather, the spirochete showed an enongated thin profile with only the vaguest suggestion
of undulations.
Now I do not know for certain that in the subsequent 70 or so Ixodid tick dissections
which he performed soon after his discovery of the "index case" what profiles
he saw under the microscope.
Dr Burgdorfer does recount that in his initial discovery material, that the first
thing to catch his eye, was a nematode - whose diameter and overall length
dwarfed the size of the first Borrelia organism, and he "caught the spirochetal profile"
out of the center of the microscopic field which contained the first Borrelia.

Comment: L'hazard ne favorize que les esprits bien preparees. ( Dr Louis Pasteur)

Dr Burgdorfer was extremely well prepared, in the words of Dr Louis Pasteur.

Had I been sitting with him in his laboratory at the time of his initial discovery
I would not have had the knowledge ( based on textbook learning) to
conclusively identify the "uncoiled undulating structure"
as a spirochete. To this very day, pathologists in current practice are reluctant
to diagnose the "uncoiled" form of Borrelia burgdorferi in tissue specimens.
As is demonstrated by Drs Aberer and Duray, there is much pleomorphism
in the borrelia burgdorferi morphologic universe.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/article ... 14.pdfLink:

Dr Alan Barbour, nearly a decade later, described a spontaneous mutation of the Lyme
disease spirochete which totally lacks a spiral profile. It is the HB 19 (Flagellin-less)
form of Borrelia burgdorferi. The HB 19 mutant has a straight (noncurved) profile,
and could easily be misdiagnosed as a Bacillus species. The lack of Flagellae
in the HB19 borrelia explains why the organism has no spirals. Dr Nyles Charon
has written extensively about the fact that the spirals in Borrelia are conferred by the
periplasmic flagellae which reside exterior to the cell wall and just beneath the
Glycocalyx rich Outer surface membrane (OSM).
HB19 Borrelia burgdorferi is available for purchase from the American Type Culture
Collection, should any microbiologists on this forum be interested in studying it.

With profound praise to Dr Burgdorfer, one man working alone, whose discovery
is the raison d'etre for this website.

Alan B. MacDonald MD

Please excuse me for using some french language.
Last edited by inmacdonald on Sat 10 Mar 2012 17:52, edited 1 time in total.

hv808ct
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Re: Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - Moment of disco

Postby hv808ct » Thu 9 Feb 2012 4:31

Dr Willy Burgdorfer granted and interview (which was supervised by staff from the
Rocky Mountain Laboratory , National Institutes of Health, NIAID) Excerpts from that interview , concernng the circumstances of his discovery of the spirocheal agent of Lyme borreliosis:


A little tautology here? Repeating a lie in the hopes that it will eventually become—or at least be taken as—truth? What would be the rationale for the NIH to “supervise” the interview of a long retired employee? How would that work legally or bureaucratically? And would someone like Burgdorfer actually put up with such an invasion of rights and common sense? We’ve heard this nonsense before from the creators of the docudrama, Under Your Skin:

Just as we began filming, there was a pounding on the door, and we found ourselves facing someone who turned out to be a top researcher at the nearby Rocky Mountain Laboratories, a biolevel-4 NIH research facility. Standing on the porch, our uninvited guest said, “I’ve been told that I need to supervise this interview. This comes from the highest levels. There are things that Willy can’t talk about.”

We were stunned.


Me too. "From the highest levels?" What B-movie melodrama. I was especially stunned after talking to my colleague during the IOM Lyme workshop who just happened to be the above mentioned “top researcher” and who, by the way, doesn’t work in a BSL-4 lab…and has no access to one. He was quite surprised and outraged about the nonsense suggested above and still can’t figure out why such a claim was made. But as has been mentioned in the past, Wilson and company can clear it all up by releasing the three hours of taped interviews with Willy. Think they’ll do that?


And then there’s this:

With profound praise to Dr Burgdorfer, one man working alone, whose discovery
is the raison d'etre for this website.


Working alone? I think not.

From a brief history of the discovery of Lyme disease:

Where was Dr. Burgdorfer during this initial outbreak of antibiotic-responsive ECM in Connecticut during the late 1970’s?

Well, he was all over the place. In 1977, he was working with Jorge Benach and others on Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) on Long Island. In 1978, he was working on rickettsia in South Carolina, and writing (in German) about sheep ticks. In 1979, he was writing about the tick vector Ixodes ricinus in Switzerland, spotted fever group rickettsia, and RMSF in Connecticut. Papers in 1980 covered RMSF in Ohio and Cape Cod, and the ecology of R. rickettsii. The next year (the year spirochetes were first glimpsed in the tick, Ixodes scapularis/dammini) Dr. Burgdorfer published papers on spotted fever rickettsia in Connecticut, rickettsia in Ixodes ricinus in Switzerland, and a case of African boutonneuse fever imported into the U.S. Much of this published work was done with Magnarelli, Anderson, Spielman, Benach and many other people not well known to the Lyme community of activists and clinicians.

Finally, in 1982, W Burgdorfer, AG Barbour, SF Hayes, JL Benach, E Grunwaldt, and JP Davis published “Lyme disease-a tick-borne spirochetosis?” in Science (18 June 1982 216: 1317-1319). They reported: “A treponema-like spirochete was detected in and isolated from adult Ixodes dammini, the incriminated tick vector of Lyme disease. Causally related to the spirochetes may be long-lasting cutaneous lesions that appeared on New Zealand White rabbits 10 to 12 weeks after infected ticks fed on them. Samples of serum from patients with Lyme disease were shown by indirect immuno-fluorescence to contain antibodies to this agent. It is suggested that the newly discovered spirochete is involved in the etiology of Lyme disease.”

Dr. Burgdorfer was lead author on the Science paper.

Three more papers were published in 1983 (8-10). Dr. Burgdorfer was lead author on one entitled, “Erythema chronicum migrans--a tickborne spirochetosis;” Benach was lead author on the second, “Spirochetes isolated from the blood of two patients with Lyme disease;” and Steere was lead author on the third, “The spirochetal etiology of Lyme disease.” Alan Barbour, MD (then with Burgdorfer at Rocky Mt. Labs in Montana) is a co-author on all three papers.

Barbour then published, as sole author, “Isolation and cultivation of Lyme disease spirochetes” (11), and an “Immunochemical analysis of Lyme disease spirochetes” (12), while Johnson, Hyde and Rumpel determined the taxonomy of the Lyme spirochete, placing it in the Borrelia genus (13). The next year (1985) Schmutzhard and Stanek identify the newly named Borrelia burgdorferi as a possible cause of Bell’s palsy (14).

Meanwhile, Burgdorfer continued to publish additional papers with Benach, Bosler, Hayes, Barbour, Magnarelli, Anderson, and others on the Ixodes dammini spirochete, Lyme spirochete bacteriophages, patient antibodies in Lyme disease, European lymphocytic meningoradiculitis, and Lyme disease in Wisconsin and Connecticut.

According to scientists, physicians and the local media, it appeared that a new infectious disease had been identified in Connecticut and the surrounding regions, though at least one German physician apparently questioned its “newness” (15). More about that later.

So what happened at Yale and the Rocky Mt. Labs in late 1981 that lead to the June 1982 Science article announcing the identification of an Ixodes tick-borne spirochete as the likely agent of Lyme arthritis? For that, we have to go to Dr. Burgdorfer’s 1984 published description of the discovery (16). In his recalling of the discovery of the Lyme spirochete, he writes:

“Since 1975, my colleague Jorge Benach, from the New York State Health Department, and I have been interested in the epidemiology and ecology of Rocky Mountain spotted fever on Long Island….” (There were 124 cases of RMSF and 8 deaths during 1971- 1976.)

“In late September and early October 1981, Dr. Benach provided additional collections of I. dammini from Shelter Island, New York, where Lyme disease was known to be endemic. Again, none of 44 males and females [ticks] had rickettsial infections. The hemolymph of two females, however, contained large microfilariae that differed morphologically from Dipetalonema rugosicauda, a microfilaria I detected in several adult I. ricinus in Switzerland in 1978. To determine whether these nematodes were present also in the digestive system, I dissected both ticks and prepared Giemsa-stained smears from individual midgut diverticula for microscopic examination. No microfilaria was found. Instead, I encountered poorly stained, rather long, irregularly coiled spirochetes.”

“Subsequently, 124 remaining ticks were dissected and each of their organs was examined for similar organisms. Seventy-five (60 percent) contained spirochetes….”

“Needless to say, I shared these observations with several of my colleagues, including Dr. Benach, who not only saw to it that I was well supplied with field-collected ticks from Shelter Island, but also provided sera from patients with clinically diagnosed Lyme disease for preliminary serological identification of the organism, and also Dr. Barbour, who at the time was engaged in a study of the variable major proteins of cultured tick-borne relapsing fever spirochetes and who offered his expertise to culture and immunochemically characterize the organism.”

Read the entire entry here. (http://relative-risk.blogspot.com/2011/ ... -name.html)

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inmacdonald
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Re: Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - discovery

Postby inmacdonald » Thu 9 Feb 2012 6:27

By universal consensus the agent of Lyme disease
is named Borrelia burgdorferi -- and for obvious reasons the
honors accorded to Dr Willy Burgdorfer acknowledge his
singular role in Discovery of the pathogen which bears his name.

Tick dissection in search of pathogens was practiced by other
medical entymologists before 1981. No one before Dr Burgdorfer
provided microscopic evidence of a spirochetal pathogen
in Ixodid ticks from North America and no one before Dr Burgdorfer
made the cognitive connection that a novel spirochete might be the long sought
infectious agent of Lyme Disease.

___________________________________________________________________________________________
This (Contrast enhanced by me) is the image that Dr Burgdorfer saw:

Willy discovery enhanced.jpg
From Yale J. Biology and Medicine 57 (4) 1984
Willy discovery enhanced.jpg (43.02 KiB) Viewed 2809 times








The pertinent finding - moment of discovery - is in the center of the image.
Can you understand that many would have passed over this?

To me this goes beyond "seeing what everyone has seen and thinking what no one has thought"
This is Louis Pasteur's " Chance favors the prepared mind"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

No member of the Rocky Mountain Laboratory, NIH, or NIAID disputes
Dr Willy Burgdorfer's discovery of the cause of Lyme disease.

A team approach by many scientists expanded the microbiology
domains of Borrelia burgdorferi
but these activities were entirely dependent on the selection of a spirochete as the prime mover
- the etiologic agent of Lyme Disease.

Dr Willy Burgdorfer solved the first question in Lyme disease - the nature of its etiologic agent.

Respectfully submitted,

Alan B. MacDonaLD, MD

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inmacdonald
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Re: Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - Moment of disco

Postby inmacdonald » Fri 9 Mar 2012 16:36

Under the Microscope - Ixodid tick mid gut dissection - What do you see

_________________________________________________________________________________
Burgdorfer initial spirochete seen Yale J Biol Med.jpg
Willy saw the first Borrelia burgodrferi here- Do you see it too?
Burgdorfer initial spirochete seen Yale J Biol Med.jpg (6.73 KiB) Viewed 2808 times





___________________________________________________________________________________
Link:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/article ... 0-0070.pdf
___________________________________________________________________________________

I think, as a professional who has spent more than 30 years of looking through the microscope
at human tissues and microbiology smears,
that Dr. Willy Burgdorfer's visual genius has no equivalent peer in the history of microscopic diagnostic microbiology.
The rest of us who depend on textbook knowledge, and whohave direct experience with the microscope are in awe of Dr Burgdorfer at that moment of discovery in 1981.
_______________________________________________________________________________________
Alan B. MacDonald, MD
March 9,2012

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inmacdonald
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Re: Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - Moment of disco

Postby inmacdonald » Fri 9 Mar 2012 17:40

NON- SALIVARY Ixodid tick TRANSMISSION of Borrelia burgdorferi
In 1984, Dr Burgdorfer expressed some thoughts (below)
____________________________________________________________________________
Scroll image to view complete picture

Burgdorfer 1984 Yale J Biol Medicine v ol 57 pp515-520  underlined.jpg
Burgdorfer 1984 Yale J Biol Medicine v ol 57 pp515-520 underlined.jpg (365.82 KiB) Viewed 2794 times






________________________________________________________________________________

In 2012, all tha we read about is the transmission of Bb via the saliva of the Ixodid tick.
What ever happened to the Reurgitation route and the Fecal transmission routes
which are mentioned in the ABSTRACT above?

________________________________________________________________________________
Alan B. MacDonald MD

March 9, 2102

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Re: Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - Moment of disco

Postby X-member » Mon 12 Mar 2012 16:18

A quote (from an earlier post):

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=3667#p27494

Willy saw the first Borrelia burgodrferi here- Do you see it too?


I can see them! ;)

I have read somewhere, that some of the forms of the borrelia bacteria have been seen many, many times before, but since they didn't have an explanation, they just stopped "seeing them".

migs
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Re: Dr. Willy Burgdorfer- in his own words - Moment of disco

Postby migs » Tue 27 Mar 2012 21:38

hv808ct wrote:
Dr Willy Burgdorfer granted and interview (which was supervised by staff from the
Rocky Mountain Laboratory , National Institutes of Health, NIAID) Excerpts from that interview , concernng the circumstances of his discovery of the spirocheal agent of Lyme borreliosis:


A little tautology here? Repeating a lie in the hopes that it will eventually become—or at least be taken as—truth? What would be the rationale for the NIH to “supervise” the interview of a long retired employee? How would that work legally or bureaucratically? And would someone like Burgdorfer actually put up with such an invasion of rights and common sense? We’ve heard this nonsense before from the creators of the docudrama, Under Your Skin:

Just as we began filming, there was a pounding on the door, and we found ourselves facing someone who turned out to be a top researcher at the nearby Rocky Mountain Laboratories, a biolevel-4 NIH research facility. Standing on the porch, our uninvited guest said, “I’ve been told that I need to supervise this interview. This comes from the highest levels. There are things that Willy can’t talk about.”

We were stunned.


Me too. "From the highest levels?" What B-movie melodrama. I was especially stunned after talking to my colleague during the IOM Lyme workshop who just happened to be the above mentioned “top researcher” and who, by the way, doesn’t work in a BSL-4 lab…and has no access to one. He was quite surprised and outraged about the nonsense suggested above and still can’t figure out why such a claim was made. But as has been mentioned in the past, Wilson and company can clear it all up by releasing the three hours of taped interviews with Willy. Think they’ll do that?


And then there’s this:

With profound praise to Dr Burgdorfer, one man working alone, whose discovery
is the raison d'etre for this website.


Working alone? I think not.

From a brief history of the discovery of Lyme disease:

Where was Dr. Burgdorfer during this initial outbreak of antibiotic-responsive ECM in Connecticut during the late 1970’s?

Well, he was all over the place. In 1977, he was working with Jorge Benach and others on Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) on Long Island. In 1978, he was working on rickettsia in South Carolina, and writing (in German) about sheep ticks. In 1979, he was writing about the tick vector Ixodes ricinus in Switzerland, spotted fever group rickettsia, and RMSF in Connecticut. Papers in 1980 covered RMSF in Ohio and Cape Cod, and the ecology of R. rickettsii. The next year (the year spirochetes were first glimpsed in the tick, Ixodes scapularis/dammini) Dr. Burgdorfer published papers on spotted fever rickettsia in Connecticut, rickettsia in Ixodes ricinus in Switzerland, and a case of African boutonneuse fever imported into the U.S. Much of this published work was done with Magnarelli, Anderson, Spielman, Benach and many other people not well known to the Lyme community of activists and clinicians.

Finally, in 1982, W Burgdorfer, AG Barbour, SF Hayes, JL Benach, E Grunwaldt, and JP Davis published “Lyme disease-a tick-borne spirochetosis?” in Science (18 June 1982 216: 1317-1319). They reported: “A treponema-like spirochete was detected in and isolated from adult Ixodes dammini, the incriminated tick vector of Lyme disease. Causally related to the spirochetes may be long-lasting cutaneous lesions that appeared on New Zealand White rabbits 10 to 12 weeks after infected ticks fed on them. Samples of serum from patients with Lyme disease were shown by indirect immuno-fluorescence to contain antibodies to this agent. It is suggested that the newly discovered spirochete is involved in the etiology of Lyme disease.”

Dr. Burgdorfer was lead author on the Science paper.

Three more papers were published in 1983 (8-10). Dr. Burgdorfer was lead author on one entitled, “Erythema chronicum migrans--a tickborne spirochetosis;” Benach was lead author on the second, “Spirochetes isolated from the blood of two patients with Lyme disease;” and Steere was lead author on the third, “The spirochetal etiology of Lyme disease.” Alan Barbour, MD (then with Burgdorfer at Rocky Mt. Labs in Montana) is a co-author on all three papers.

Barbour then published, as sole author, “Isolation and cultivation of Lyme disease spirochetes” (11), and an “Immunochemical analysis of Lyme disease spirochetes” (12), while Johnson, Hyde and Rumpel determined the taxonomy of the Lyme spirochete, placing it in the Borrelia genus (13). The next year (1985) Schmutzhard and Stanek identify the newly named Borrelia burgdorferi as a possible cause of Bell’s palsy (14).

Meanwhile, Burgdorfer continued to publish additional papers with Benach, Bosler, Hayes, Barbour, Magnarelli, Anderson, and others on the Ixodes dammini spirochete, Lyme spirochete bacteriophages, patient antibodies in Lyme disease, European lymphocytic meningoradiculitis, and Lyme disease in Wisconsin and Connecticut.

According to scientists, physicians and the local media, it appeared that a new infectious disease had been identified in Connecticut and the surrounding regions, though at least one German physician apparently questioned its “newness” (15). More about that later.

So what happened at Yale and the Rocky Mt. Labs in late 1981 that lead to the June 1982 Science article announcing the identification of an Ixodes tick-borne spirochete as the likely agent of Lyme arthritis? For that, we have to go to Dr. Burgdorfer’s 1984 published description of the discovery (16). In his recalling of the discovery of the Lyme spirochete, he writes:

“Since 1975, my colleague Jorge Benach, from the New York State Health Department, and I have been interested in the epidemiology and ecology of Rocky Mountain spotted fever on Long Island….” (There were 124 cases of RMSF and 8 deaths during 1971- 1976.)

“In late September and early October 1981, Dr. Benach provided additional collections of I. dammini from Shelter Island, New York, where Lyme disease was known to be endemic. Again, none of 44 males and females [ticks] had rickettsial infections. The hemolymph of two females, however, contained large microfilariae that differed morphologically from Dipetalonema rugosicauda, a microfilaria I detected in several adult I. ricinus in Switzerland in 1978. To determine whether these nematodes were present also in the digestive system, I dissected both ticks and prepared Giemsa-stained smears from individual midgut diverticula for microscopic examination. No microfilaria was found. Instead, I encountered poorly stained, rather long, irregularly coiled spirochetes.”

“Subsequently, 124 remaining ticks were dissected and each of their organs was examined for similar organisms. Seventy-five (60 percent) contained spirochetes….”

“Needless to say, I shared these observations with several of my colleagues, including Dr. Benach, who not only saw to it that I was well supplied with field-collected ticks from Shelter Island, but also provided sera from patients with clinically diagnosed Lyme disease for preliminary serological identification of the organism, and also Dr. Barbour, who at the time was engaged in a study of the variable major proteins of cultured tick-borne relapsing fever spirochetes and who offered his expertise to culture and immunochemically characterize the organism.”

Read the entire entry here. (http://relative-risk.blogspot.com/2011/ ... -name.html)


Somebody is a little wounded. Don't worry, perhaps you will have a recalcitrant and controversial infection named after you someday.


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