Researcher Who Found Cause Of Lyme Disease Dies
HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) — The Swiss-born researcher who gained international recognition for discovering the bacteria that causes Lyme disease has died in western Montana.
The Daly-Leach Chapel says in a phone call that Wilhelm “Willy” Burgdorfer died of Parkinson’s diseaseMonday in Hamilton. He was 89.
Burgdorfer was educated in Switzerland. He came to the Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Hamilton as a research fellow in 1951 and joined the staff as a medical entomologist six years later.
In 1982, while he and another researcher were studying deer ticks in hopes of uncovering the cause of a spotted fever outbreak in New York, Burgdorfer found the microorganisms called spirochetes (SPY’-ruh-keets) that would prove to be the cause of Lyme disease.
The infection had caused children living near Lyme, Connecticut, to develop rheumatoid arthritis. The spirochete was later named after Burgdorfer.
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