Translation of the interview prof Perronne gave to the magazine Paris-Match this week.

Translation of the interview prof Perronne gave to the magazine Paris-Match this week. (Quick translation, so sorry if mistakes)

Things-they-are-a-movin' in France this year !!
Many illnesses called auto-immune or inflammatory have an infectious component.

Paris Match: Why are the effects of the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, so poorly understood in France?
Pr Christian Perronne: As far back as 1920, a microbiologist from the Pasteur Institute, Nobel Prize winner Charles Nicolle, had already written about borrelias; many inflammatory and degenerative illnesses are due to microbes hidden deep inside tissues and cause “unapparent (stealth) infections”. If antibiotic treatment does not always work, it is because parasites and viruses are also present mixed in with the bacteria transmitted by arthropods and insects, such as ticks.
But, after WWII, an “antimicrobial trend” emerges. In the USA, an operational Head of Public Health declares that infectious diseases are “a thing of the past, since we can now rely on hygiene, vaccinations and antibiotics”. His words “contaminate” our own Public Health officials: infectious diseases are considered to be a thing of the past. We are entering the era of genetic and immunologic diseases, an approach that still prevails today.

PM: What difficulties did you encounter trying to give microbes the role you think they deserve?
CP: Thirty years ago, I discovered that I could cure some auto-immune illnesses using anti-infectious cocktails. I set up official research protocols to evaluate the efficacy of my treatments. But specialists of auto-immune diseases stopped patients who were volunteers, from participating in my studies saying “it was charlatanism”!
As a result, medical practitioners are not allowed to prescribe antibiotics when “the diagnosis is unclear”, and if they do they risk being deregistered by the “ Conseil de l’Ordre” (Council of the College of Physicians). This is what happened to Dr Bottero in Nyons (Drôme), one of the pioneers in France, who started bringing relief to autistic children, to people with schizophrenia using antibiotics. Chronic Lyme borreliosis is one of the possible causes of serious illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s... More than 800 symptoms are due to the borrelias.

PM: In France, nobody knows of the connection between Alzheimer’s and borreliosis...
That’s right! A researcher from the INSERM (Institute for Health and Medical Research in France), insisted that to consider a possible infectious link for Alzheimer’s Disease was ludicrous! Yet, a team of researchers in Philadelphia has, once again, proved a link between certain forms of Alzheimer’s and borrelias. The problem, when we are dealing with chronic illnesses, is that some patients are cured when given antibiotics or antiparasitics, whereas others do not respond at all, the likely reason being that viral factors can also be at play.

PM: you mean that Lyme borreliosis is not the sole culprit?
That’s right, I am of the opinion that most chronic illnesses that have been given the labels of “inflammatory”, “auto-immune” or “degenerative” have an infectious component. It is that infectious component which triggers or fuels the illness.

PM: How can patients find help?
If you have an erythema migrant (the typical early Lyme circular rash), the patient must demand a prescription for antibiotics from his or her treating physician, and the official recommended dose must be prescribed (amoxicilline 4g/day for 2 to 3 weeks). For more advanced forms of the illness, the only reliable diagnostic method is a trial treatment with antibiotics: if the antibiotics work, it means infection is present.
Since blood tests do not detect these bacterias in all cases, French doctors are not allowed to give anti-infectious treatments on the basis of the history and symptoms of the patient. It is not so everywhere, things may differ if we cross our borders...
In Germany, for example, tests are much more sensitive. Many French patients go there to get treatment. In Germany doctors can give higher doses and longer courses of antibiotics without getting into trouble from health authorities. In France, chronic illnesses are diagnosed according to their symptoms. No causes are looked for. Yet we know that there may be an overlap in many illnesses. I once had a patient who was diagnosed as having Rheumatoid Arthritis in Nantes and Multiple Sclerosis in Angers! Lyme borreliosis can mimic both illnesses.

PM: Are there no reliable tests in France to detect borreliosis and associated infections?
CP: Only at veterinarians. They use the concept of “unapparent (stealth) infection”. But such tests are not authorised for human use. One laboratory did use these tests with a few patients, another doctor reported him and he nearly had to close down his practice as a disciplinary measure! The current tests here are performed using a 30 year-old American strain. They do not take into account the biodiversity of this very diverse bacterial type.

PM: You teach at Paris-Versailles-Saint-Quentin University, do you inform your students of the effects of this disease?
CP: I do, students tell me that Lyme is a disease that has been invented by the Internet. They are being told not to bother with patients that have negative serologies, nor with the ones who have “too many symptoms”, or to send them to a psychiatric ward!

PM: What is slowing down research?
CP: Ten years ago, few people knew of Lyme disease in France. Yet I had published a study that showed that I cured 80 out of 100 patients, but clinical studies take a long time and they are costly, especially when the cause of the pathology is multifactorial. The pharmaceutical industry could finance tests on stealth (unapparent) infections and their treatments. Much money could be saved in health expenses, chronic illnesses cost society a lot of money, and not only Lyme disease!