Lyme Disease Facts and Fictions

Lyme Disease Facts and Fictions

Lyme Disease Facts and Fictions

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Ren Bisson, and I am the office manager at the Stram Center for Integrative Medicine in Bennington. We are Lyme Disease specialists. In the process of gathering accurate information about Lyme to better treat our patients, we have uncovered some facts and very inaccurate so-called ‘truths.’ Much of the following information is from the Medical Society of the State of New York, which provides educational information free from bias.

One of the biggest misnomers about Lyme is that a bulls-eye rash will develop at the bite site 90 percent of the time. However, studies done at the Thomas Jefferson University and at Johns Hopkins have shown that this rash is not the dominant feature of early Lyme, and is only present in about nine percent of cases. So, if you are bitten by a tick and you do not get a bulls-eye rash, it does not mean you haven’t been exposed to Lyme.

If you’ve been bitten by a tick or have shown symptoms of Lyme, your physician may have ordered a serological test for Lyme; when the results come back as negative, most are pronounced Lyme free and sent on their merry way. This is where one of the greatest disservices begins. Several studies have verified that the efficacy of the serological test, specifically the first tier serological assay, is accurate less than 50 percent of the time. How can this be considered an effective tool? Eventually you begin to develop potentially debilitating symptoms, all because you were given a test indicating wrong results more than half of the time. There are more effective tests available, but if the first Lyme test comes back negative, the majority of the time either the doctor won’t order a more advanced test or your insurance company won’t pay for a second test. In addition – and this is often the case – you get a tick bite and are prescribed a single 200 mg dose of doxycycline, then told it will prevent your getting Lyme Disease. (This common practice is based on a single study published more than a decade ago in 2001. The article does not substantiate its claim, and is predicated on the belief that the bulls-eye rash is the determinant factor in having Lyme. The case study did show it could help prevent the rash from showing up 87 percent of the time, but that does not translate to preventing Lyme from developing.)

It is a fiction that treating Lyme with two to four weeks of doxycycline or other antibiotic effectively eliminates infection 95 percent of the time in Lyme patients. After a national survey was presented at the 13th International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis and Other Tick-Borne Diseases, it was shown that 61 percent of diagnosed patients received antibiotic treatment for a longer duration than the current guidelines being followed by allopathic medicine. That means you have only a 39 percent chance of being cured of Lyme after two to four weeks of antibiotics, based on actual information gathered.

It is very important to know the symptoms that accompany Lyme, especially because of the number of patients being misdiagnosed. The following is an abbreviated list of reported symptoms: joint pain or swelling; pain that moves from one area of the body to another; headaches; shortness of breath; cough; twitching of the face or other muscles; double vision; ringing in the ears; facial paralysis; stiffness of the joints, neck, or back; stomach upset; swollen glands; sore throat; unexplained hair loss; unexplained fever, sweats, chills or flushing; fatigue; forgetfulness; and poor short-term memory. Were I to list all the symptoms of which patients complain, you would stop reading and move on.

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, perhaps it is time to see someone and ask for a Lyme test. Then, if and when it comes back negative,show your provider this article or apprise them of the fact that the test does not produce the desired result with over 50 percent false negatives. Take charge of your life and demand answers; request a Western Blot test be done and do research to find a reputable Lyme specialist providing integrated care, because integrated practitioners treat the whole person. There are numerous supplements, both medicinary and homeopathic, that can aid in recovery and will not be found in a traditional doctor’s office.

Prevention is the best route to take. Cover up when going outside, wear light clothing, tuck your pants into your socks, use a deterrent and fully check your body when you return from being outside. Use flea and tick treatment on your animals. Do research on prevention, as there are always new discoveries being made and reported. If you are against the idea of prophylactic antibiotics and you want your found tick tested for Lyme prior to treatment, go to If you’d like more information about Lyme or have questions, go to or ask your local Lyme

– Ren Bisson

1 Comment

  1. Sandy Rhodes 2 years ago

    Ren, nice article. I hope you will do regular follow up articles with additional supportive resources. Maybe you could shed some light on why southwestern Vermont has become the national hotbed for Lyme’s disease.

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