Why Mitt Romney’s Lyme Disease Mailers Are Dangerous

The Romney campaign is sending out a flyer in Northern Virginia pledging to fight Lyme Disease, which is describes as a “massive epidemic threatening Virginia”:

The Washington Post notes that “According to the CDC there are less than 1,000 reported cases of Lyme disease in Virginia a year — in a state of eight million people.”

It’s fairly difficult to contract Lyme disease because “an infected tick must be attached to the skin for at least 36 hours to transmit Lyme bacteria.” For those who are affected, there is a straight-forward and effective treatments for the disease — a course of antibiotics for 2 to 4 weeks.

So what’s the point of this Romney mailer?

A highly influential social conservative in Virginia, Michael Farris, believes that people can contract “chronic Lyme disease” that must be treated with long-term antibiotics. The Center for Disease Control says there is no such thing as “chronic Lyme disease” and “long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease has been associated with serious complications.”


You can read about these complications in this article from “Clinical Infectious Diseases,” the official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, called “Death from Inappropriate Therapy for Lyme Disease.”

Farris “claims that his wife is a chronic Lyme sufferer as are all his seven children.”

Farris, who has no medical training, was invited to speak with Romney on his campaign bus a couple of weeks ago. Farris said that he and Romney “talked about Lyme disease. It was cordial and encouraging.” Here’s a photo of the meeting from Romney’s Facebook page:

The Romney flier advocates providing “local physicians with protection from lawsuits to ensure they can treat the disease with the aggressive antibiotics that are required.” Farris’ wife receives treatment from “Dr. Joseph Jemsek, who moved his practice to Washington, D.C., after losing his medical license in North Carolina for treating patients with long-term antibiotics.”