Cure Unknown

Inside the Lyme Epidemic

Pamela Weintraub

St. Martin's Press

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A groundbreaking and controversial narrative investigation into the science, history, medical politics, and patient experience of Lyme disease told by a science journalist whose entire family contracted the disease.
Pamela Weintraub paints a nuanced picture of the intense controversy and crippling uncertainty surrounding Lyme disease and sheds light on one of the angriest medical disputes raging today.  She also reveals her personal odyssey through the land of Lyme after she, her husband and their two sons became seriously ill with the disease beginning in the 1990s. 
From the microbe causing the infection and the definition of the disease, to the length and type of treatment and the kind of practitioner needed, Lyme is a hotbed of contention. With a CDC-estimated 200,000-plus new cases of Lyme disease a year, it has surpassed both AIDS and TB as the fastest-spreading infectious disease in the U.S. Yet alarmingly, in many cases, because the disease often eludes blood tests and not all patients exhibit the classic "bulls-eye" rash and swollen joints, doctors are woefully unable or unwilling to diagnose Lyme. When that happens, once-treatable infections become chronic, inexorably disseminating to cause disabling conditions that may never be cured. 
Weintraub reveals why the Lyme epidemic has been allowed to explode, why patients are dismissed, and what can be done to raise awareness in the medical community and find a cure. The most comprehensive book ever written about the past, present and future of Lyme disease, this exposes the ticking clock of a raging epidemic.

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Navigating by Lymelight

Starting in the early 1990s, after we moved from a city apartment to a wooded property in Westchester County, New York, our family began to get sick. At first the illness was subtle: The vague headaches, joint pains, and bone-weariness seemed par for the course in our busy suburban lives. But as years passed, the symptoms intensified and multiplied, burgeoning into gross signs of disease.

My knees became so swollen that I descended the steps of my house while sitting. Swallowing my food, I choked.

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Praise for Cure Unknown

“Pamela Weintraub's book is compelling, clear and troubling.”
–Patti Adcroft, editorial director of Discover magazine


“In Cure, Unknown, Pamela Weintraub has produced both the definitive book about Lyme disease and associated disorders and a survivor’s account of a grueling medical odyssey. Weintraub is a masterful science writer and storyteller, and she tackles the quarrels and quagmires surrounding this baffling illness with intelligence and pathos. This is an important and unforgettable book, destined to make a lasting contribution to the field of investigative health journalism.”
–Kaja Perina, editor in chief of Psychology Today


"A thoroughly researched and well-written account of the disease's controversial history."
--Jane Brody, New York Times
"Pam Weintraub, veteran science writer, weaves personal narrative with hard-hitting investigative journalism to bring the underground epidemic of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases up from under the
-Rebecca Wells, author of Ya-Yas in Bloom and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
"I sometimes wonder if the only investigative writers who will possess the necessary temerity to remove the white gloves and tackle these putative experts to the ground will be those, like Weintraub and the
late Randy Shilts, whose personal experience demands that they follow the rocky trail that leads to the truth."
-Hillary Johnson, author of Osler's Web: Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
"Millions suffering from symptoms of a mysterious disease need suffer confusion and loss no longer. If you want to know the real story behind Lyme disease and how to find your way back to health, read this book."
-Mark Hyman, MD, author of the New York Times bestseller, UltraMetabolism.
"Science journalism at its best."
--Amiram Katz, MD, Clinical Faculty, Neurology Department, Yale School of Medicine
"Weintraub turns a tragic yet eye-opening experience into a shocking exposure of what can happen when egos, greed, and peer pressure supercede objective evidence, allowing patients to suffer chronic,
disabling illness."
–Donna Chavez, Booklist
"Exhaustively researched and highly recommended."
–Tina Neville, Library Journal
"A tale of biological complexities, scientific turf battles, political intrigue, human egos and money – lots of it."
–Dorothy Kupcha Leland, Sacramento Bee
"Living with Lyme gave Weintraub both the insight and the dogged ambition to find out some truths ...  rather than remaining stuck at the pro-Lyme, anti-Lyme debate, Weintraub spent many hours
interviewing researchers who are experts in the ticks that spread Lyme, and the bacterial spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, that causes it. What she found is that these researchers -- at places like the
State University of New York at Stony Brook on Long Island, and the University of California at Davis -- are slowly figuring out how complex the bacteria and the disease are. And Weintraub said, these
researchers, by and large, confirm what many Lyme patients have learned through bitter experience -- the bacteria can cause a persistent infection that may not be treated easily by a couple of
weeks of antibiotics."
--Robert Miller, Danbury News-Times
"The view from inside the tick tornado: Sober but scary ...A science and health journalist, Weintraub writes clearly and passionately about a mysterious illness that has confounded physicians, patients and
scientists for more than three decades, while she tries to balance personal narrative and objective journalism... a comprehensive and compassionate guide to a dreaded illness named after a bucolic,
tick-infested town on Long Island Sound."
--Bill Williams, Hartford Courant
"In the war of information on Lyme disease, patient activist groups have started from a marked disadvantage to the medical establishment in terms of visibility and credibility. That may be changing, and science journalist Pamela Weintraub's new book, "Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic" (St. Martin's Press), could be one reason. Weintraub, a senior editor at Discover magazine, uses her family's protracted Lyme odyssey as the jumping off point for an exploration into the history, politics and, predominantly, the patient experience of the tick-borne disease."
--- Susan Morse, Washington Post

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About the Author

Pamela Weintraub

Pamela Weintraub is an author and journalist who specializes in health, biomedicine, and psychology. She is currently a consulting editor at Psychology Today and executive editor at MAMM magazine, and has served as editor in chief of OMNI and staff writer at Discover. Weintraub has written hundreds of articles for many national publications, including Redbook, Ms., McCall'sAudubon, and Health, to name just a few.  She lives in Connecticut.

Pamela Weintraub


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Available Formats and Book Details

Cure Unknown
Inside the Lyme Epidemic
Pamela Weintraub


St. Martin's Press
June 2008
ISBN: 9780312378127
ISBN10: 0312378122
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 432 pages

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
October 2009
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312378134
ISBN10: 0312378130
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 448 pages

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St. Martin's Press

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