Press Release: Announcing the Launch of Our New Website

Paul Lavoie

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Paul Lavoie, MD

Paul Lavoie, MD was a San Francisco Rheumatologist and Internal Medicine specialist. He was the first doctor to diagnose Lyme disease in California patients. Dr. Lavoie authored 25 published papers on the Lyme disease, including one about fetal death. He was a pilot, frequently going to conferences by flying himself to the local airport and taking a taxi to the conference site.

Dr. Lavoie was not a newcomer to emerging diseases in patients. He was on the forefront of treating AIDS patients. When his Lyme patients starting relapsing, despite “adequate” treatment, he realized his patients were chronically infected. Using an analogy with the treatment for tuberculosis and syphilis, Dr. Lavoie started to treat his patients through comparable replications and fewer patients relapsed. He also started using combination antibiotic therapy, in the same theory as TB patients use combination antibiotic therapy to try to avoid latent disease.

In addition, Dr. Lavoie noticed that many patients had a Jarisch Herxheimer reaction (JHR) during treatment. The JHR is “a transient clinical phenomenon that occurs in patients infected by spirochetes who undergo antibiotic treatment. The reaction occurs within 24 hours of antibiotic treatment of spirochete infections, including syphilis, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and relapsing fever.” (from NIH’s website).

During the patients’ adverse reactions (fever, aches, pains) to treatment, he found he needed to stop treatment so that the patient’s body could clear the dying Borrelia pathogens. His theory was that the dying bacterial particles cause a Jarish-Herxheimer reaction stimulating an autoimmune reaction that exacerbated the Lyme symptoms. So, he would stop treatment for a short time to give the body a chance to recover and clear the dead pathogens. When the symptoms subsided, he would start treatment again, to clear any remaining live pathogens.

On a personal note, Paul was a veteran pilot, amateur singer, and worked hard to reach out to patients, doctors, and researchers to learn as much as he could. Paul knew Karen and Tom worked at the LDF late at night, so he would fax them at 2 am and ask …. Are you there? When Karen faxed back, “Yes.” Paul would then fax to them the message, “Go Home! Go to Bed!” Paul cared and was a wonderful member of the LDF team.

Dr. Lavoie died in 1993 from pancreatic cancer. The night he died, he called Karen at her hospital room to tell her how much he loved working with her and the LDF. He wished her well with the impending delivery of her daughter.
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