Advocacy for Lyme disease has become an increasingly important part of an antiscience movement that denies both the viral cause of AIDS and the benefits of vaccines and that supports unproven (sometimes dangerous) alternative medical treatments. Some activists portray Lyme disease, a geographically limited tick-borne infection, as a disease that is insidious, ubiquitous, difficult to diagnose, and almost incurable; they also propose that the disease causes mainly non-specific symptoms that can be treated only with long-term antibiotics and other unorthodox and unvalidated treatments. Similar to other antiscience groups, these advocates have created a pseudoscientific and alternative selection of practitioners, research, and publications and have coordinated public protests, accused opponents of both corruption and conspiracy, and spurred legislative efforts to subvert evidence-based medicine and peer-reviewed science. The relations and actions of some activists, medical practitioners, and commercial bodies involved in Lyme disease advocacy pose a threat to public health.
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We thank Lenise Banwarie and Diana Olson for their assistance. EDS is supported in part by grant K24 RR022477 and Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) grants KL2 RR024138 and UL1 RR024139 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR; a component of the NIH) and the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. The contents of the article are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the NCRR or the NIH.