The First Epidemic

Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change

By Mary Beth Pfeiffer

A plague is rising.
In dozens of countries.
In your backyard.

We have underestimated the danger.
Of ticks.


Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change is the first book to explore the link between a warmer world and the explosion of what has become an everyday menace in the lives of millions: ticks.  

Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change documents the global and dangerous spread of Lyme disease to multitudes of people around the United States and the world. At the same time, this seminal book is the untold and dramatic story of a painful disease that science has yet to unravel.

As the nation’s leading investigative writer on Lyme disease, author Mary Beth Pfeiffer shows ticks climbing mountains and crossing borders as temperatures rise, forests are fragmented, and species lost. Indeed, this army of ticks -- in urban parks, suburban yards, and at the edges of school playgrounds -- is rooted in an uncomfortable truth. Ultimately, it is we who unleashed them. 

Moreover, and of urgent importance, Pfeiffer challenges medical dogma that has dictated care for two decades and which holds, wrongly, that Lyme disease is straightforward to diagnose and treat.


Pfeiffer exposes the failure of government and medicine to prevent rapidly spreading infection, address poor diagnostic tests, and help many thousands of patients whose symptoms -- body pain, crippling fatigue, and neurological, psychiatric, and memory issues -- can linger long after treatment. 

In beautiful written stories, she gives voice to patients whose illnesses have been dismissed and to doctors whose treatments have put their licenses in jeopardy. She tells of scientists whose emerging studies suggest the threat of tick-borne diseases is far greater than originally thought and methods to treat them inadequate. Lyme is an impeccably researched account of an enigmatic disease that makes a powerful case for action to combat ticks, address the pain of patients, and recognize humanity's role in creating an epidemic. 


Endorsements for Lyme


“The war against an eight legged menace that emerged about 145 million years ago is escalating to frightening proportions and we are losing it. Mary Beth Pfeiffer clearly outlines the failure of the scientific and medical communities to address the suffering of millions of people in the USA and around the world  with tick borne diseases. Her well researched book is a call to action to find a cure.”



“As the planet heats, ticks spread--and with them not only Lyme disease but also a distinctly unnatural fear of the natural world. This book offers a powerful alert--hopefully it will cause us not only to protect our individual selves, but our society as well.”

Bill McKibben, Author, The End of Nature


“A major contribution to public knowledge of Lyme disease. Well written and documented, it is a mine of information for those who want to keep their eyes open to the threat of spreading ticks. Borrelia and its microbial accomplices, are destroying lives on several continents, Pfeiffer warns, a true pandemic driven by global warming and a real tick invasion around the planet.”



A book on climate change I couldn’t put down. An utterly convincing argument, beautifully told: what we do unto other species and the environment we do unto ourselves.”

Mark Jerome Walters, D.V.M., Author of Seven Modern Plagues And How We are Causing Them


“This book throws new light on one more danger caused by climate change. Pfeiffer points out the importance not only of combating ticks but also the need for doctors to respond quickly and provide appropriate treatment. A stark warning that Lyme is but the tip of the iceberg.”

Jane Goodall, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace


“Pfeiffer’s book is a superbly written piece of investigative reporting. 'Lyme' is as macabre as a Stephen King horror novel – except the topic is all the more frightening because it’s real. Pfeiffer deftly weaves together the story of two modern scourges, clearly demonstrating the myriad links between mankind’s destruction of the environment and the epidemic spread of this insidious tick-borne infectious disease that slowly robs patients of their livelihoods and their lives.  The reality of the current epidemic is made all the more terrible by her exposition of the politicization of the healthcare system by a small, influential group of out-of-touch physicians who by their actions are vastly increasing the suffering of the afflicted by preventing needed research, and attacking their fellow physicians who are doing their best to attend to a desperate patient population.”

– Garth D. Ehrlich, Drexel University College of Medicine