Wednesday, January 4, 2012

0 Camp Other Blog: 2011 In Review

A little over a year ago, I set out to write about the Chicago Tribune's article, "Chronic Lyme: A Dubious Diagnosis". My analysis of that article formed the basis for this blog, and from there, I hit the ground running.

I didn't know how long I'd write here or how often. Or know whether or not wrestling with chronic illness would interfere with writing. Sometimes it has. Sometimes it hasn't.

One year later, and I'm still here. Perhaps a bit battered around the edges. Tired. Exhausted. Overwhelmed, even. Disappointed with the lack of more treatment research for myself and my fellow sufferers. But also more knowledgeable, less naive, and more curious than when I began. Open to more new ideas. Questioning.

I'm somewhat amused this blog gets as much traffic as it has during the past year and it has only increased as time went on. I never expected it to be The Popular Blog Online, given the somewhat esoteric subject matter at times - but perhaps these stats mean something?

January 2011: 1,379 page views
March 2011: 2,539 page views
June 2011: 3,957 page views
November 2011: 5,579 page views

And for the most part, this trend in traffic increase continues. It only tends to dip down when I don't write something for a long time.

There were over 40,000 visits to this site during 2011 from over 114 countries - with the top ten countries' visitors coming from the United States, Canada, Russia, Slovenia, Germany, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Netherlands, India, and France. And there are over 104 more, from Australia to Algeria. This blog has had an ongoing international audience since it began.

Where Camp Other Is Read: Around The World
On average, about half my visitors are people who return to read something new on my blog. Some are repeat checkers who must hit refresh for the homepage daily or something. Sometimes they are deliberately looking in my archives. (I don't know why - hey, you're reading - perhaps you can tell me why?) The other half of my visitors are people using google and other search engines for specific research, possibly for university papers or their own personal education. Their keyword searches are often incredibly specific; with a keyword choice like "Borrelia burgdorferi + bacteriophage" they often end up here.

I didn't know who would be interested in reading along. Or how many people would want to scour Lyme disease related research and publications with me. But it seems like quite a number of you are interested because you keep coming back.

To you, I say thank you. Even if you have never commented on this blog, if you have been getting something positive out of being here and learned something new, that makes it worth it to write. It inspires me to keep going even when the going is tough.

(And I will say that my underwhelming publishing schedule in December was not only the result of holiday insanity/busyness my family participates in - it was also the result of life and my health being tough.)

(And it still is. I can't guarantee any sort of content/timeline/publishing schedule right now.)

But I made it this far, so I'd like to share some of the highlights of this blog from 2011:

In January, the blog looked at polymicrobial infections - also known as Lyme disease coinfections. How common are coinfections? What is the most recent body of literature on coinfections? What kind and severity of symptoms do patients with coinfections have? We took a preliminary look at these questions.

In February, we examined the different uses of the term, "chronic Lyme disease", and I wrote about how the IDSA Lyme disease guidelines group would label my condition - versus how patient advocates would label my condition. This link has been very popular during the past year up to now:

In addition to wrangling with disease definitions, in February there was much buzz about an old patent that I decided to comment on (including for its use of the above terminology), the VlsE sequence in Borrelia burgdorferi (as discussed at the 2010 Institute of Medicine workshop on tickborne diseases), and the interesting package insert from the Athena Multi-Lyte Borrelia VlsE Test, which states, "Lyme disease occurs in stages, often with intervening latent periods and with different clinical manifestations," and "Also, early antibiotic therapy after EM may diminish or abrogate good antibody response. Some patients may never generate detectable antibody levels." Yes, Virginia, there can be seronegative Lyme disease.

In March, the blog reviewed the 1993 U.S. Congressional Senate Testimony On Lyme Disease in two parts, including questions and commentary on various sections. We also discovered the value of anecdotal evidence, and offered links to online video tutorials on the immune system for beginners.

In April, we introduced readers to a blog about spirochete microbiology, Spirochetes Unwound. We also reviewed an outline of the book, "Borrelia: Molecular Biology, Host Interaction and Pathogenesis", and listed many definitions and terms used in Borrelia microbiology. Two other popular articles or series were published during this month - a two-part series on phage therapy: "One Way To Treat Borrelia Naturally?" and "Phage Therapy and Borrelia burgdorferi". We also shared a two-part series on neuroborreliosis based on the Institute of Medicine's 2010 tickborne disease workshop notes, and shared the news that a serious allergy to red meat can develop in some people who have had a tick bite.

In May, Camp Other blog contributed a series of posts at The Daily Kos in observance of Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and reposts of these posts can be found in May 2011 archives. Of the lot, I think "Lyme Disease Rant: The Wall Of Polarization" is particularly important for those engaged in discussing both sides of the Lyme disease controversy online. We also looked at someone's thesis, "Environmental Stress in Borrelia burgdorferi", and some initial late stage Lyme disease study outcomes from the 2000 Lyme disease guidelines.

In June, the blog took a preliminary look at the 2006 Lyme disease guidelines, examined the paper - "Borrelia burgdorferi RST1 (OspC Type A) Genotype Is Associated with Greater Inflammation and More Severe Lyme Disease" - on the growing evidence of differential pathogenicity among Borrelia burgdorferi genotypes in the United States, shared Dr. Elizabeth Maloney's critique of the IDSA Lyme disease guidelines, and wrote a critique of a (which has yet to be confirmed as official) letter from the CDC to a Lyme disease patient who had written looking for more information on Lyme disease.

In July, we referred to our favorite spirochete blog, Spirochetes Unwound, to learn more about Barthold's study on how Lyme disease affects the immune system in lymph nodes, asking the question: "Does Borrelia burgdorferi cause an inadequate antibody response by altering B cell activation in the lymph node?" We shared an overview of Lyme disease in vitro studies showing intracellular behavior, examined how Google can aggregate data sets for Lyme disease using Google Trends, and broadcast the news that a teen from North Carolina developed a serious allergic reaction to meat after a tick bite.

In August, the blog discussed the publication of a paper on the link of antibodies to long term symptoms related to Lyme disease infection, introduced readers to a new patient blog: Lyme Jello, and examined whether or not there is a connection between different genetic haplotypes (HLA-DR#) and Lyme disease in two related posts. I think, though, that the most profoundly compelling post of August (and related to the previous two) was this one: "Immune + Infection = HLA-DR alleles determine responsiveness to Borrelia burgdoferi."

In September, the blog looked at the development of new Lyme disease detection tests for patients, published two articles on the recognition that Borrelia miyamotoi can cause infection in patients in the United States, speculation about Borrelial blebbing and camouflage, and speculation on the role of cholesterol in Borrelia burgdorferi.

In October, the blog speculated what kind of new Lyme disease research may be useful, we learned that a Chacolithic iceman from 5,000 years ago had Lyme disease, we looked at a new molecular test which may be able to detect early Lyme disease, and reviewed the Stony Brook Young Investigators Series On Lyme Disease.

In November, the official final report of the Institute of Medicine workshop was published on Pubmed: "Critical Needs and Gaps in Understanding: Prevention, Amelioration, and Resolution of Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases: The Short-Term and Long-Term Outcomes," a Tularemia outbreak hit Australia, and there were two notable articles published on long-term outcomes of antibiotic use as well as using cathelicidins as an alternative to antibiotic use. Perhaps one of my favorite links for November was about a series of articles by Slate on the use (and drawbacks) of the murine (mouse) model for researching human models of disease.

In December, the blog shared an outline and separate discussion on presentation summaries from the 2011 Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases National Conference held in October 2011. The news of a new strain of Ehrlichiosis that is causing disease in Sweden was reported, and we took a look at concerns over a Canadian freedom of information request and response over patient advocacy and supportive treatment of Lyme disease at a new Vancouver Complex Chronic Disease Clinic.

So, those are the highlights of the past year in review.

What will 2012's blog posts have in store for you? Stay tuned...


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