The Quiet Epidemic – Hot Docs 2022 review

May 12, 2022- Permalink

The Quiet Epidemic

The Quiet Epidemic

Sometimes when a problem seems almost too big to comprehend, it helps to bring the story down to a personal level that we can relate to better. That’s exactly what The Quiet Epidemic, which screened as part of Toronto’s Hot Docs 2022, does for chronic Lyme disease.

The disease affects hundreds of thousands in the United States, but getting it recognized as a chronic condition by doctors, the CDC and more importantly, for Americans, the insurance companies is an uphill battle. Directors Lindsay Keys and Winslow Crane-Murdoch start off with the story of Julia Bruzzese a once-vivacious teenage girl in Brooklyn who was suddenly hit with an illness that left her tired all the time and using a wheelchair. Her father checked everything he could and his information pointed to Lyme disease. Her dismissive doctors pushed back against that notion and even accused her of faking her illness. The Bruzzeses weren’t alone though and weren’t some kooks dismissing science. In fact their paths cross with noted oncologist and researcher Dr. Neil Spector, whose own battle with Lyme had left him needing a heart transplant.

We branch off from these personal experiences with the disease to see the origins of Lyme disease and how tests were manipulated to lesson the number of people diagnosed in the first place so that insurance companies could keep their payouts down. We learn of vaccines removed from the market for legal reasons and just like tobacco, we see that money trail that often connects the doctors and the CDC to the insurance companies.

I’d strongly recommend looking for this doc in your town or online. As much as The Quiet Epidemic is the story of the fighting spirit of a girl, her father, and a noted researcher, it’s also a stark reminder that in the United States especially, the Hippocratic Oath has a price limit attached.