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Wrong Willy Burgdorfer?

Dr. Willy Burgdorfer


National Institutes of Health

HQ Phone: (301) 496-4000

National Institutes of Health

31 Center Dr. MSC 2062 Building 31, Room B1-W30

Bethesda, Maryland 20892

United States

Company Description

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supportin... more

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Background Information

Employment History

Doctors and Researcher

Lyme Books


Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee
Lyme Disease Foundation , Inc.

Associate Member On the Forces Epidemiology Board
Rickettsial Commission of the Armed


zoology , parasitology and bacteriology

PhD Degree

University of Basel

honorary MD degree

University of Bern

honorary MD degree

University of Marseille

Web References (200 Total References)

The species responsible for Lyme symptoms ...

natcaplyme.org [cached]

The species responsible for Lyme symptoms was named Borrelia burgdorferi after its discoverer, Dr. Willy Burgdorfer of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

LDA News & Updates

www.lymediseaseassociation.org [cached]

Dr. Willy Burgdorfer, PhD, zoologist and microbiologist, Scientist Emeritus, NIH's Rocky Mountain Labs, Montana died November 17, 2014, according to an early report from LymeDisease.org.


www.lymediseaseassociation.org [cached]

Dr. Willy Burgdorfer, PhD, zoologist and microbiologist, Scientist Emeritus, NIH's Rocky Mountain Labs, Montana died November 17, 2014, according to an early report from LymeDisease.org.

Lyme Disease NIH INfo 2012

www.drmhayden.com [cached]

Willy Burgdorfer, Ph.D., seen here inoculating ticks, discovered the spirochete, or corkscrew-shaped bacterium, that causes Lyme disease. The spirochete was later named for Dr. Burgdorfer: Borrelia burgdorferi. Credit: NIAID/RML

Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, was first isolated in 1982 by Willy Burgdorfer, Ph.D., a zoologist and microbiologist at NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana.
About 2,000 miles away at RML, Dr. Burgdorfer was studying Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Dr. Burgdorfer was trying to help Jorge Benach, Ph.D., find the cause of more than 100 cases of spotted fever that occurred in New York from 1971 to 1976.
Dr. Benach, of the New York State Health Department, had been a source of American dog ticks for Dr. Burgdorfer to study.
Some 30 years earlier, while a college student in Basel, Switzerland, Dr. Burgdorfer began his studies of tickborne diseases and focused on relapsing fever. This bacterial disease was spread by fast-feeding, soft-bodied ticks that sent infectious corkscrew-shaped spirochetes into their blood-meal hosts. At the time of Dr. Burgdorfer's collaboration with Dr. Benach, spirochetes in slow-feeding, hard-bodied ticks-such as the deer tick or American dog tick-were rarely found.
Here is how all the preceding clues came together, as shared by Dr. Burgdorfer in a 1993 article he wrote for Clinics in Dermatology. Following his sabbatical, Dr. Burgdorfer resumed his Rocky Mountain spotted fever collaboration with Dr. Benach.
Dr. Burgdorfer recalled a 1949 conference he attended where attendees discussed a little-supported theory on Ixodidae-the family of hard ticks-spreading spirochetes and causing a European skin disorder.
Within hours of spotting and confirming the presence of spirochetes in the deer ticks, Dr. Burgdorfer dissected the remaining 124 ticks and found 75 with spirochetes. He cautiously wondered if he had found the cause of both the European skin disorder-erythema migrans-and Lyme disease. After notifying Dr. Benach and receiving serum from recovering Lyme disease patients, Dr. Burgdorfer and his colleagues found antibodies in the patient serum that reacted to spirochetes they had found in the deer ticks.
For his role, the Lyme-causing spirochete was named for Dr. Burgdorfer: Borrelia burgdorferi.

The Nardella Clinic

nardellaclinic.com [cached]

At the same time Willy Burgdorfer, a researcher at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, was studying and examining ticks from New York when he noticed a spirochete that he had never seen before. He checked the rest of the ticks he had on hand, and found that 60% of them carried the organism.

Burgdorfer had been trained in Europe, where the link between a spirochete and the bullseye rash had been hypothesized, so he chased the lead by obtaining more ticks and some blood samples from people diagnosed with Lyme disease. Eventually he isolated the spirochete in Lyme sufferers and published his findings, earning him the honour of having his discovery named after him: Borellia Burgdorferi.

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