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Petitioning Medscape Member Services Medscape and 15 others

Medscape; remove or correct Barbara Johnson’s misleading Lyme disease presentation

One way to stop an epidemic is to redefine it by narrowing the disease's diagnostic criteria so tightly that it's hard for any chronically ill Lyme patient to fit the profile.

A complaint was filed with WebMD regarding the following Medscape news post on Mar 5th 2012,
“Testing for Lyme Disease: Follow the Steps by Barbara J.B. Johnson, PhD”

The following statement by Barbara Johnson regarding the Western blot Lyme test is the issue:

“To be considered positive, the serum should react with at least 5 of 10 scored bands on the IgG assay and with 2 of 3 scored bands on the IgM assay.”

This set of Western blot criteria was established for surveillance purposes only and if the patient does not meet these strict criteria then the case is not reported to the CDC. Those who treat Lyme disease exclusively recognize that it is not necessary to have five positive Western blot IgG bands or two IgM bands in order to diagnose Lyme disease.

(Sample Western blot)

The CDC has confused a nation of intelligent physicians by not including the disclaimer that the national surveillance case definition is for reporting purposes only and not to be used in clinical diagnosis.
Misinterpretation of laboratory results is the main reason why physicians across the nation are dismissive of Lyme patients and their symptoms.

Medscape must not blur the lines between surveillance & diagnostic criteria, suggesting that all Lyme patients will test positive by the CDC's strict ELISA and Western Blot criteria. Substantial research evidence, including that from institutions such as Johns Hopkins, shows this is not true.  

WebMD claims to be; “The leading source for trustworthy and timely health and medical news and information” but in this example we question the integrity of Medscape’s services and those who are in charge.

Sign this petition and insist Medscape remove or correct Barbara Johnson’s misleading presentation.

First complaint letter Mar 3, 2012
Second complaint letter Mar 25, 2012
Third complaint letter Apr 9, 2012
Fourth complaint letter Apr 12, 2012
Jim Wilson’s complaint letter Mar 25, 2012
Follow up letter Apr 16, 2012

Letter to the Editor, The Lancet Infectious Diseases Published May 2012
Follow up letter Apr 27, 2012

The “Nine Step Program of Denial” Feb 11, 2012
Burness Communications Letter Feb 2, 2012

Miguel A. Perez-Lizano’s letter to Barbara Johnson  June 1, 2003

Lyme disease: impact of the CDC surveillance criteria on patients

Carl Tuttle

Hudson, NH
Website: New Hampshire Lyme Misdiagnosis

Additional petition site:


This petition was delivered to:
  • Medscape Member Services
  • Medical Editor, WebMD
    Louise Chang (Medical Editor, WebMD)
  • VP Channel Services
    Laura Greiner (VP Channel Services)
  • VP Best Practices
    John Hopkins (VP Best Practices)
  • State Representative
    John Hikel
  • Attorney General of the United States
    Eric H. Holder, Jr.
  • Citizen Complaint Center
    DOJ Antitrust Division
  • VP Programing and Content Strategy
    Kristy Hammam
  • Senior VP, General Manager
    Clair Martorana
  • Medical Editor, WebMD
    Brunilda Nazario
  • WebMD's Editor
  • WebMD's Executive Vice President, Professional Services
    Steven Zatz
  • WebMD's Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
    Douglas W. Wamsley
  • WebMD's Executive Vice President
    Gregory A. Mason
  • WebMD's Interim Chief Executive Officer
    Anthony Vuolo
  • WebMD's Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
    William Pence (WebMD's Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer)

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