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News Tip: Putting Lyme Disease In The Bull’s-Eye

Polly Murray and Judith Mensch refused to take no for an answer.

  • Date: 5/23/2003
  • BIDMC Contact: Jerry Berger
  • Phone: 617-667-7308

BOSTON -- Polly Murray and Judith Mensch refused to take no for an answer. Facing a baffling of array of symptoms afflicting members of their family, the Lyme, CT mothers persisted in putting their concerns before the medical community. Then, in late 1975, they found David Snydman, M.D., a Connecticut Department of Public Health official and Alan Steere, M.D. a Yale rheumatologist. Both physicians had trained as epidemiologists with the Centers for Disease Control.

Snydman, Steere, and a team of physicians at both Yale University and U.S. Navy Submarine Medical Center in Groton, CT, began to slowly unravel the mystery of rashes, unexplainable outbreaks of what appeared to be juvenile arthritis and other seemingly unrelated symptoms. Slowly and painstakingly, they were able to link the symptoms to the deer tick that lived in the Connecticut woods. Lyme disease had been identified.

Jonathan Edlow, M.D., vice chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center tracks this medical detective saga in "Bulls-Eye: Unraveling the Mystery of Lyme Disease, published by Yale University Press.

"The book not only chronicles the fast-paced epidemiological detective work that went into solving the mystery, but also confronts many of the controversies about Lyme disease that persist to the present day," says Edlow.