We started watching Under Our Skin late last night thinking that we’d just see the first bit, but that wasn’t happening. It was way too intense. I hadn’t previously known that lyme disease was the world’s fastest spreading epidemic, that it was eerily similar to syphilis, or that it effects the nervous system, or pretty much anything about lyme aside from a few of my friends having contracted it (this includes one friend who did not have the lyme rash or other associated symptoms).
Under Our Skin exposes the political controversies surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of chronic lyme disease. The film implicates the relationship between research universities, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies in influencing the decision of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s (IDSA) rulings on appropriate treatment of lyme. The IDSA contends that chronic lyme disease does not exist, and therefore its (expensive for insurer’s) treatment is unnecessary. Compounding the problem that lyme disease is so often misdiagnosed or perceived as being psychosomatic, it means that there are thousands upon thousands of people with a common and progressively debilitating disease who are consistently uninformed, mistreated, and untreated.
One thing that stood out for me in the film is the role that lyme can play in pregnancy and birth. Lyme disease can be transferred from the mother transplacentally to the fetus, potentially leading to miscarriage, birth defects, and chronic progressive lyme in a child, leading me to wonder whether testing for lyme wouldn’t be a possible approach for women who have had successive miscarriages, particularly in high-lyme regions.