Patient Zero


How are medical mysteries solved? And what happens when questions remain? Patient Zero is an investigation of the spaces where people and pathogens collide. This season, we take a deep dive in to the history – and mystery – of one of the fastest spreading epidemics of our time: Lyme disease. Learn more at A production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

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Recent Reviews
  • kennyhadden
    This should be required listening
    A remarkable story about a widespread but little-understood illness. This is top notch journalism and compelling storytelling. Aside from a couple goofy production tells this could easily be from The NY Times instead of NH public radio.
  • BabrahamLincoln1203
    Awesome Podcast!
    This podcast is terrific. It is very informative and gives you an over the shoulder look of the disease from a patient’s point of view, as well as the misery and struggles for proper diagnosis that this mysterious disease entails. Very informative and well produced. Highly recommend.
  • littlegreenspider
    A true audioscape covering a timely topic
    We live in a Lyme danger zone (sw PA). So many friends and family members have had it or still struggle with the aftermath. Topic is handled well, and I really enjoy the creative editing and ambient noise.
  • ms sir
    Riveting and thorough
  • Sarahe927
    Fascinating but poorly edited
    This story is well-researched and very well-told. However, the editing is pretty bad. Half of sentences are cut off or started halfway through, and the volume varies. Hopefully these are just new podcast kinks they will work out.
  • Sisty Ugler
    Absolutely fascinating
    Not just the issues around Lyme disease but also the broader issues of public health policy implementation and epidemiology.
  • Jim from Caluf.
    lyme podcast
    excellent work. Good presentation. Pitch for donations could be lass gage-show like. I hope you do a follow-up and discuss optional treatments that are less or not quaking. Jim from Calif.
  • geldster
    Another pro vaccine reporter.
    Look into the Wakefield study. You reported that he committed fraud. He was accused of it but later exonerated. Watch VAXXED. I dare you.
  • TInyLasso
    Educates & Entertains
    As a regular hiker and camper, I was marginally interested in this topic. But the quality of the storytelling sucked me in. It’s the kind of reporting and writing that is harder and harder to find. It’s weird to say I was “entertained” by such a debilitating disease, but the series is just so interesting and informative. Taylor Quimby clearly spent a ton of time working on this podcast, and it shows. Really well done.
  • Ashmlong6
    Great podcast!
    I’m a pharmacist training in infectious diseases and I think this podcast is very well-researched! May be more interesting for people with medical/science background than those without.
  • hagnewsv
    Broad ranging yet highly detailed. Engaging and educational
  • pghlinda
    Love it
    Really enjoyed this. Very well researched podcast. Podcast host was fun to listen to - good storyteller good sense of humor - and occasionally skips vowels in the words like “important” - adorable.
  • ebpingree
    Loved it. Interesting and compelling. Reminds me of Radiolab episodes.
  • DirtyDan&TheKids
    It’s about time !!
  • An upset Insta user
    So Far, alright
    I’m only on the first episode but already they left the address of where the interviewee lives in the podcast and did not bleep it out. I realize the aesthetic is kinda cool but freely telling people where someone lives is not. Will have to see if the podcast improves as I go.
  • Tmanspartacus
    I’m a chemist and toxicologist. This is a fantastic podcast. I have recommended to so many people. The stories are told in a very well written. Keep up the good work.
  • 48~Julie
    Really Disappointing
    There is a congressional call to discover whether our government played a role in the initiation of Lyme Disease, and yet this is never even mentioned or alluded to. Lyme CT’s proximity to Plum Island and the infestation map alone is enough to raise questions, and yet again, not only is this never brought up, we’re told that climate change is probably responsible. Seriously? What has happened to journalism in this country? Especially on a podcast labeled “Patient Zero”??
  • MD NY
    I’m a doctor and I loved this
    So interesting. Very well done. Credible. Please do more, many more.
  • Librarian Listener
    Overproduced and Missing Major Information
    I am halfway through the last episode and there is no mention of Kris Newby's book "Bitten" or Rep. Chris Smith's probe into wheter Lyme Disease is the result of bioweapons research. Whether you believe that theory or not, it seems incredibly misleading to not even mention it.
  • H Wally
    I want to hear more! Great coverage and information! I can’t stop telling people to listen to this! I wish there were more episodes
  • JDZM3
    Balancing the Stars
    Ok, maybe not 5 stars but it is very, very good. It’s a heady podcast infused with the politics of the disease. If that sounds like your thing... listen away. If it sounds boring, then pass. I loved it!
  • worldwideblockchain
    I feel ticks everywhere and am convinced I have LYME
    Creepy, gross, disturbing and an extremely thorough examination of Lyme. Nice Pod
  • Trothboy
    Apart from the required ocassional silly comments, this is an incredibly informative series. The history and future of this disease.
  • Laura__03
    Great listen
    This podcast is incredibly well researched, the sound design is great, and the information is presented in such a way that even someone without medical knowledge or experience will be able to understand it. Episode 5 may be one of the best podcast episodes I’ve listened to, seriously. This is a must listen!
  • Bradc89
    Liberal junk
    Everything is our fault. Stupid tree huggers.
  • JoceDHern
    Episode 6
    Hearing Megan’s story and symptoms was a deja vu moment for me. I felt like she was explaining everything I was going through and having to make decisions in regards to treatment. I’m still going through this journey and this podcast has brought about a perspective that I’ve enjoyed listening to.
  • Mckennalynn15
    Great show
    Love it
  • Foxposte
    NonA Non B Episode 6
    Extremely well done! The conundrum of whether to treat or not to treat. As a family practice phys ican, I have faced this issue personally, and for patients. I developed symptoms consistent with Lyme disease, but a Lyme Elisa was negative. I saw a Rheumatologist who elected to treat me for presumptive Lyme disease: Four weeks of home IV Ceftriaxone plus oral Doxycycline for about 3 months. It worked My symptoms disappeared. Six months later, they were back. My doctor gave me the same treatment, but the IV antibiotic for SIX weeks, and Doxycycline for nine months. My symptoms disappeared completely and never came back. Of course, living in Minnesota. An area endemic for the disease, I was fascinated to understand it better. Read all the literature. I saw Dr Alan Steere talk on a panel about the subject. He opined, “If the Lyme Elisa is negative it is not Lyme disease.” I knew that in an early paper, he had written: “There is no place for Penicillin (read antibiotics) in the treatment of Lyme disease.” It is far harder to come to definitive conclusions when a practicing physician. I knew the arguments against treatment; I developed chronic C.difficle colonization of my gut. The IV meds scarred my veins. making a simple blood draw difficult. From the oral drug, I became allergic to sun exposure and can no longer tolerate the drug. I developed an “achey braky” series of blood tests, to look for other causes of symptoms One day, working temporarily for a Minneapolis clinic, by an unlikely circumstance I saw a patient new to me, who had been treated a year earlier for Lyme disease, but only took a few days of Doxycycline, & returned with classic symptoms, another who I saw earlier who tested positive for Lyme disease, and a third, with classic symptoms, but all of her tests were negative. I started all three on the expensive regime for tertiary Lyme disease on the same day. Politically, very bad for me—at a cursory glance. But I believed it was the right decision for three different people, who all unfortunately showed up the same day! One other patient, at a different clinic of the same system had classic symptoms and a positive Lyme ELISA, who I also treated. This was a managed care system which emphasized cost containment. In several months, those were the only four I treated, but the perception was that I treated patients recklessly with no thought for the cost. I often saw six patients a day who thought they had Lyme disease. Usually, a careful exam and blood tests did not seem to bear that out. Repeated treatment worked for me, but with as many serious side-effects I have since lived with, if my symptoms recurred, yet again, I don’t know that it would be reasonable to take further treatment of the same sort. I have since learned about hyperbaric oxygen, which in conjunction with antibiotics could potentially be the magic bullet, but that is another lengthy topic. I am impressed with the careful reporting in this story. It is accurate, presents different points of view fairly and thoughtfully, raising the spectrum of the many difficulties such a disease presents. Did I have Lyme disease? Or another disease just like Lyme disease that we haven’t yet identified? I don’t know. I’m glad I was aggressively treated, despite the lingering side effects. I’m aware, though, that anyone with these side effects is at greater danger of dying from a future medical problem requiring antibiotics. There are trade-offs with most medicines. It is better that the general public knows this, and takes medication as sparingly as possible, while continuing needed medical treatment for chronic diseases.
  • Nigel2020
    Still not impressed
    I’m confused. If you’re saying that at the crux of the controversy of chronic Lyme is “values” regarding the ethics of long-term antibiotic treatment, then you’re going to have to take this up with the American Academy of Dermatology. Long-term use of the same drug, doxycycline (and at the same dosage), is recommended for teenage cystic acne. In fact, according to guidelines, the minimum treatment length for doxy starts at 3 months and the general rule of thumb is 6 months. So if we are talking values wouldn’t it be more fair to focus the victim-shaming on little Billy next door for his vanity and just wanting to be liked by girls, instead of the truly sick, suicidal and marginalized? Although I was encouraged to hear that the topic of Lyme Disease has been keeping you up at night as it does for so many others, I would like to suggest you ask the hard-hitting questions instead of going around and around on the same tired talking points that the majority of journalists churn out. Here are just a few ideas off the top of my head if you need any: Why is the focus put on the “values” of desperate patients and the doctors who treat them, and not the “values” of the medical community at large who gaslight and refuse to treat very sick individuals with ANY long term treatment (let alone long-term antibiotics), or the insurance companies who refuse to cover the costs of IV’s, supplements, and immune-boosting drugs? The vast majority of LLMD’s no longer recommend IV antibiotics due to the associated risks, so why is it still being used as a major talking point for the case against LLMD’s? Why has the CDC invested so little money on Lyme Disease research when it’s the biggest vector-borne illness in the United States? Why do we still not have conclusive answers for the most basic of questions regarding the disease? Why after 6 episodes have you still not interviewed a single reputable Lyme Literate doctor? Especially before you make sweeping claims as to the efficacy of testing, diagnosing and treatment? Dr. Richard Horowitz wrote a book that most patients consider the go-to book on how to treat chronic Lyme disease. He has treated around the ballpark of 30,000 patients. Are you willing to let him weigh in on the matter? Why is it that Labcorp’s and Quest’s western blot only tests for Borrelia Burgdorferi, when in fact it is dozens of species of borrelia that cause Lyme Disease and its debilitating symptoms? Are you willing to interview any people who work at the specialty labs that test for Lyme? Is it true that Igenex could be more accurate in its testing because it cross-reacts with the more strains of Lyme borrelia (as stated on its website)? Could this cross-reaction with more strains be a reason specialty labs are more “sensitive” and produce more positive or varying results? If not, what are the criteria for positive results at each lab? Why is DNA Connexions, a popular lab that claims to culture the bacteria from patients’ urine samples, repeatedly unable to get FDA approval? Why won’t the medical community at large accept results from this lab? Have there been ANY investigations by anyone to see if this lab is legitimate? If this was a quack lab with fraudulent practices how could we not know conclusively by now? If the bacteria are so difficult to find because they’ve burrowed into joints and organs, can autopsies of those who had been treated for Lyme Disease be performed? And last but not least... why can I get 6 months of doxy to treat my acne, but I can’t get it to save my life?
  • rachlrave
    Found this podcast through Bear Brook which I loved. My brother has Lyme Disease and I am listening to this to better understand what he is going through. And I also recommended the podcast to him. I really enjoy it.
  • NHArtShop
    A step back for NH
    I’m glad I waited to decide to support NHPR’s Patient Zero. It’s a definite NO. Rating this down to one star. This podcast is harmful. Take the time to do some unbiased research. (1-4 were a good start). This podcast is lazy journalism. If music and gimmicks are your thing Quimby, stick to what you know —don’t mock those suffering you have no creditable knowledge about. — Ep. 6 - the conversation stagnates. C diff is very serious, and is absolutely a concern. But 3/4 a podcast on the same argument that’s been going on for decades why not to treat? Disappointed the producers didn’t dive deeper into research, on both sides, and come up with a podcast to help listeners, and physicians, development better understanding on updated education and individualized treatment options. It’s time to move the conversation forward. —— The first four were very good, but took a nose dive on the fifth. It was a waste of an opportunity to focus on just one clinic that has questionable treatments. Found this 5th podcast harmful to all who didn’t have the fortune to get swift treatment like the producers did (Quimby et al) for the acute stage and their recovery was quick. To mock those who are suffering as hypochondriacs or paranoid with long term symptoms who were misdiagnosed and ignored by their doctors for years is falling back to your old harmful rhetoric. Hope the last two will be back on track. It’s long overdue for the NH medical community to take Tick Borne Diseases seriously and help their patients. Stigmas have no place in healing. It begins with unbiased education.
  • carolweb
    Mimics the IDSA’s stance of discounting Lyme pain and suffering
    Very disappointed where this podcast ended up. It insinuates that chronic Lyme patients go to quacks after attending a support group by showing one patient who went to “laser therapy”. That could happen with just about any dire illness, especially cancer. How about following a person with Lyme and showing the immense suffering they endure and the losses they have experienced with job loss, inability to go to school and rejection by families and doctors. And the common the aftereffects of opioid addiction and suicide. How about looking into why there is a lack of research funding for Lyme disease. That’s the real story.
  • davidianni
    Very good.
    Lots of research into it. Nice pace in story telling.
  • LeighPo
    Another podcast minimizing and mocking (aka gaslighting) chronically ill patients and calling Lyme literate doctors Quacks. Ugh. Mr. Quimby forgot the number one rule of writing: know your audience (well, it’s a tie between Know Your Audience and Show, Don’t Tell). I’m confident most of his audience is composed of people who have been affected by Lyme or another chronic illness, either because they contracted the disease or a loved one did. Mr. Quimby thinks he has science on his side. Unfortunately for him, Lyme science has been politicized since Day 1, which renders much of the conventional Lyme wisdom useless. Unsubscribe!
  • Ash8787421780
    So boring
  • ptwas
    Sound fx
    The sound effects are hacky and distracting.
  • SteveSpiker
    Into it until they deny vaccine injury
    I was into this podcast until they started denying the possibility of vaccine injury by using “cases reported to the cdc” as their basis. When was the last time you reported any illness to the cdc? Never? Oh yeah me too. I had a terrible reaction to a flu vaccine and never reported it to my doctor, much less the cdc. Reactions are always higher than the cdc acknowledges because people don’t report.
  • Brian9182
    Very poor job at telling both sides of the story
    Great history and build up to what Lyme is. You can tell that they put a lot of time telling the side of the CDC but then grabbed ahold of the first quack that they could get ahold of on the other side. There are a lot of respected ILADS doctors out there that could have put a better perspective on the alternative medicine perspective. It’s sad that such a well put together podcast seems to have gotten lazy with their research and biased their story.
  • ipodluver19281
    A holistic and absorbing look into the history, controversies, and treatments of Lyme Disease. I love all the different perspectives incorporated into this show. The storytelling is great too!
  • Amp132
    Great research on Lyme but missed the mark for the chronic illness community
    This is definitely one of the finest produced shows on chronic illness, but unfortunately episode 5 seems to almost make fun of the majority of the chronic illness community. The first four episodes were amazing and I love hearing what the medical industry is doing with research and diagnostics. Unfortunately, episode 5 covers what they refer to as “quackeries.” Yes, there are definitely hoaxes out there, but the rhetoric and the almost mocking tone is distasteful. Think of the audience listening to this. It’s either folks with Lyme or folks with another chronic illness (me for example). Folks that want to be taken seriously and folks that will do anything to feel better. Because feeling poorly is no way to live. This show is a step in the right direction, there’s no doubt about it. I hope it leads to more and better coverage of AI diseases and chronic illnesses.
  • jerazin
    Very boring unless you have a Lyme disease connection
    No idea how they have dragged this pod out for so many episodes. It has become so tedious and boring. You’re bombarded with tidbits of information from random voices and “experts” that are often unidentified. It is mind numbing. If you’re affected by Lyme, I could see how it may be of interest. Just not for me, and I really like medical information.
  • A. Fam
    Top notch research and execution!
    It’s so clear from listening to this all the time that Taylor and NHPR invested into this incredible show. Having lived near the woods and always on the watch for ticks and the bulls eye rash, this show is fascinating to me. Taylor’s narration keeps the show moving
  • AKesseru
    Great Podcast!!
    I’m rating this podcast because it really needs more stars!
  • Littlemissmedamnit
    Great podcast
  • saraleja
    I have always been interested in Lyme’s disease and this podcast answered all my questions! Can’t wait to hear the rest of this series!
  • Krissy Meheegs
    Cannot believe this doesn’t have 5 stars
    Hello!! The production value alone deserves 5 stars. I especially loved the topical Boromir quote in episode 3 and the in-depth look at quack treatment methods in episode 5 (I lol’d at Taylor’s reactions to the laser guy). Also, for someone who has a debilitating phobia of ticks, I knew astoundingly little about Lyme before listening to this podcast. Now I can’t get the Latin name for it out of my head (I’d prove it to you except I definitely can’t spell it). Everyone should listen to this, and c’mon, give it 5 stars.
  • tnywerble
    Fascinating, and great to have someone sift through the confusing information around this disease.
  • Eur0driver
    Good first episode
    I’ve loved diseases and epidemiology ever since I did a senior year project on Ebola in high school in ‘06. This sounds like it’s going to be a great pod, how ever I too hope they will go on to cover other diseases and related subjects. It’s incredibly fascinating and engaging stuff.
  • alixw222
    I absolutely love what NHPR is doing with this podcast. It tells a story - an important story - about a disease (Lyme) that, when brought to doctors, is often met with laughter and skepticism. Although it focuses on Lyme, its themes go beyond Lyme and to the worlds of the patient, the medical community, the researchers, and the mistrust felt by each. I would highly recommend to anyone!!!
  • shipgirl22
    Where can I email
    Would like to ask some questions. I’m a Lyme patient and curious if anyone on here has had an unhealthy pregnancy with Lyme?
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