Bullying Borrelia: When the Culture of Science Is Under Attack

Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2012;123:79-89; discussion 89-90.


Although Lyme disease responds to short courses of antibiotics, tick-borne Borrelia burgdorferi has been advanced by some as a frequent explanation for medically unexplained symptoms such as continual fatigue, musculoskeletal pains, and subjective neurocognitive dysfunction. Often called "chronic Lyme disease" by adherents of this philosophy, it is loosely defined, and practitioners liberally prescribe nostrums, including prolonged antimicrobial therapies, in a belief that this eradicates suspected infection. Perhaps due to the lack of supportive data, proponents of this theory have developed their own meetings, literature, activist groups, and substantial internet activities to advance their views. Forces motivating this movement are explored, as are tactics used to advance non-scientific ideas that have included legal action and garnering legislative endorsement. While neither logical nor evidence-based, "chronic Lyme disease" harnesses corrosive energies that taint modern medicine and society.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Borrelia burgdorferi*
  • Bullying*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Culture*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis*
  • Lyme Disease / drug therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Perception


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents