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“Chronic lyme disease dwells in the magical world of Quackery”

Written by Huib, published Sunday June 26th, 2016

This column was published in the Dutch Medical Journal called ‘Medical Contact‘. Its author is a self proclaimed epidemiologist and apparently also a ‘Lyme expert’. This column provoked an open letter from a scientifically trained Dutch Lyme author called Inge van Ulden, who neatly spelled out why his unfounded opinions are very harmful for ill people. She also found out that the same ‘expert epidemiologist’ is actually trained as a biologist.


This is what dr. Bonneux wrote for Dutch doctors, as a foundation for his claim that “Chronic lyme dwells in the magical world of Quackery”. I made the literal English translation for you, including his typos:

“After properly treated Lyme Disease (an infectious disease caused by Borrelia, transmitted by ticks) some patients continue to complain about vague prolonged symptoms. This is called post-treatment lymedisease [original spelling mistake by LB kept and repeated whenever appropriate; HK] syndrome (PTLDS). The exact cause is not known.

But a – for this Internet age characteristic – unctuous alliance between quack doctors, unreliable laboratories and malignant patients has created a delusion: chronic lymedisease.

Chronic lymedisease involves the (undisputed) PTLDS, but also reers to a broad group of patients with unexplained somatic disorders (MUS = Medically Unexplained Symptoms) that have nothing to do with borreliosen.

Driven by activist patient groups this quack society has created a parallel pseudoscientific universe, including research, publications, conferences and even guidelines. Visit the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) and tremble.

Recently The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a Dutch randomized trial. This compared prolonged antibiotic treatment with placebo treatment for people who believe they have chronic Lyme disease (NEJM 2016; 374: 1209).

A publication in the NJEM looks great on your resume, but a follower of evidence based medecine [original typo by LB; HK] should burst out in righteous anger. Because of the source of funding, ZonMw, the unscientific research design is betrayed. It’s not pseudoscience, it is not anti-science, it is no science at all.

The study does not reflect existing knowledge on Borrelia and borreliosen. This trial serves no useful purpose, unless your political servitude as a motive for unnecessary and potentially harmful experiments on people.

The fact that long-term treatment with up to several antibiotics is pointless for a highly sensitive bacterium has long been known (and tested before). From a scientific viewpoint, the use of prolonged antibiotic therapy in the treatment of patients who believe that they have chronic lyme, is therefore as controversial as homeopathy.

Grant providers think that they thus convince patients of the uselessness of such antibiotic therapies. This is a delusion. Chronic lymedisease is set in the magical world of quackery. By pretending there really would be a controversy, this trial shows that society only respect.

Chronic lymedisease exists by the belief in secret, virtually untreatable bacteria. Whoever believes that could run perennial trials. The tested treatments will always be too short, with the wrong antibiotics, dosed too low and insufficiently supported by treatments of the numerous co-infections.

The parallel worlds of science and pseudoscience do not touch. In the editorial team of the NJEM – or any other serious committee – no lyme enlightened quacks are present. So their views are not taken into account. According to the quackery this is caused by a conspiracy.

In this plot (all) regular medical experts have financial interests in preventing the introduction of better treatments pending an appropriate diagnostic test for chronic lymedisease. In the absence of discoverable bacteria in chronic lymedisease, such a test will also never come. And so the conspiracy lasts forever.

Financing trials (or other types of study) to support magical theories of pseudoscience equals  funding research to find garden gnomes. It is as impossible to refute the logic of pseudoscience, as it is to prove that gnomes do not exist. These gnomes evade observation: if you do not find them, it’s because you did not searched well enough.

Whomever says that gnomes do not exist, is a gnome denier – paid to keep their existence secret. Such reasoning is always watertight.

About the author

Luc Bonneux is a physician and epidemiologist. He currently works in a nursing home.

drs. Huib Kraaijeveld

In: Blog Lyme Media Human rights Nonsense Science

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