Introduction to Lyme Disease

There are many organizations that discuss the basic “facts of Lyme.” (Kind of like the “facts of life,” but much more fluid. HAHA). My preliminary study of scientific and popular arguments about Lyme Disease suggests that what we believe we know about Lyme is changing rapidly–and not necessarily due to advances in Lyme research. I am certainly not the first person to argue that the “problem” with Lyme lies in its rhetoric: who names it and what names are taken up, who diagnoses it and how it is diagnosed, whose illness stories are told and whose are silenced, etc. (See this 2013 article and its January 2015 update from the New Yorker and/or this 2014 Washington Post article for two prominent examples).

Yet I understand rhetoric to be more than the wordplay perfected by disingenuous politicians. In turn, I have included a number of key Lyme Disease resources below for your perusal. I invite you to explore these resources from a rhetorical perspective (i.e. not merely comparing the “facts,” though they are inconsistent). Some guiding questions include: How do these sources talk about Lyme Disease? What do they call different stages/types of Lyme Disease? Who seems to be the intended audience? What counts as evidence? What messages do these organizations seem to articulate about patients with ambiguous/unconfirmed Lyme symptoms?


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