The discoverer of the spirochete that causes Lyme disease passed away yesterday, November 17, 2014.
In 1980, researcher Willy Burgdorfer, a researcher and expert in spirochetal diseases at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana, along with his colleague Alan Barbour, M.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center. The scientists had been studying a large number of ticks in an effort to determine the cause of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
In examining the ticks for rickettsiae (the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Fever), Burgdorfer noticed “poorly stained, rather long, irregularly coiled spirochetes.” Further examination revealed spirochetes in 60% of the ticks. Dr. Burgdorfer and Dr. Barbour continued to study this spiral-shaped bacteria or spirochete, from infected deer ticks, and in November 1981, the two scientists discovered that the spirochete caused both the symptoms of Lyme disease and the strange bulls-eye rash called erythema migrans (EM). More than half of infected persons do not experience or remember a rash.
The spirochete was later named Borrelia burgdorferi in honor of Dr. Burgdorfer’s role in its discovery. Watch the following video interviewing Dr. Burgdofer about his views on the Lyme disease controversy which he calls “a shameful affair.”