The Red Ring: A documentary film on the tick-borne disease epidemic by Joonas Berghäll

Updated: May 18



"Stop eating pizza and get some exercise!" said a doctor to Joonas Berghäll while seeking a medical diagnosis after being bitten by a tick. The internet is rife with stories that acknowledge the immense challenges tick-borne disease patients experience while seeking an answer to their distress [1-3]. Nevertheless, science is split between tick-borne disease diagnosis or treatment being either simple or complex [4-6]. Given the raging simple versus complex tick-borne disease debate, the patients' voice and unmet medical needs seem forgotten. However, an upcoming documentary film by Joonas Berghäll, The Red Ring (in English) or Punkkisota (in Finnish), dives deep into the tick-borne disease epidemic from a struggling patients' standpoint. The movie is coming to theatres in May 2021.



Joonas Berghäll is a noted film producer, writer, and director in Finland [7]. He is the recipient of one of the oldest film awards in Europe (Jussi). Additionally, his work earned a nomination for the Nordic Council Film Award. The Red Ring movie is incredibly personal for Mr Berghäll because it combines his great struggle with tick-borne disease [8] and his expertise as a moviemaker [7]. Since a tick-bite in 2011, Joonas has visited 82 different doctors who offered mixed opinions, received 100 different diagnostic test results, and spent over 24000 euros to obtain a diagnosis. Ultimately, Joonas received the tick-borne disease diagnosis his doctor needed for treatment using TICKPLEX®. We spoke to Joonas wherein he described his TICKPLEX® experience as follows,


“My health collapsed in 2011. During the following five years, I met 82 doctors and medical experts, but no-one knew how to help me. In 2016 I took a tickplex -test. This was a turning point in my recovery process. I finally found out what was causing my illness. From this moment on, doctors were able to help me – my road to recovery started.”

Approximately 4% to 60% of tick-borne disease patients suffer from multiple bacteria, viruses, or parasites [9-14]. More importantly, the likelihood of a patient suffering from a Borrelia infection and other tick-borne disease-related microbes is 85% [15]. Yet, 83% of all commercially performed tick-borne disease tests in the USA alone account just for Lyme Borreliosis [16]. Mr Berghäll's disease to diagnosis experience speaks volumes about reforming clinical practices and healthcare policies to diagnose various microbes associated with a tick-bite. For example, TICKPLEX® is a complete diagnostic test for tick-borne diseases [17]. The test enables clinical laboratories to test multiple patients for 15 microbes associated with tick-borne illness and various disease stages, simultaneously at a 90% cost reduction for the patient.



A change in tick-borne disease diagnosis is expected as the European Parliament established the need for tests that are not limited to examining just one infection at a time [18]. Eventually, screening for several microbes could decrease the frequency of missed cases and increase the patients' quality of life. Overall, The Red Ring is an essential step towards raising awareness among healthcare providers, policymakers, and scientists to work together for the patients.



Disclaimer: The present blog is published and shared with prior permission from Mr Joonas Berghäll. LevelK Aps, Denmark and Oktober productions, Finland, reserve all rights for The Red Ring trailer. TICKPLEX® is intended to aid in the diagnosis of tick-borne pathogen infections. The test kit is for professional use only in a clinical laboratory environment. TICKPLEX® is not to be used for self-testing.


References:

1. Kris Newby. 2019. Available at: https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/6/18/18677511/lyme-disease-diagnosis-health (accessed on 17.03.2021).

2. Tara Conlan. 2019. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/aug/04/my-brush-with-lyme-disease-increase-new-forest-scotland (accessed on 17.03.2021).

3. Fiona Stalker. 2019. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-48606826 (accessed on 17.03.2021).

4. Marcelo Campos. 2018. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/lyme-disease-resolving-the-lyme-wars-2018061814071 (accessed on 17.03.2021).

5. Tonks A. (2007). Lyme wars. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 335(7626), 910–912. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39363.530961.AD

6. Mary Beth Pfeiffer. 2020.

Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/marybethpfeiffer/2020/02/26/tipping-point-the-resistance-is-gaining-in-the-lyme-wars/?sh=39ac7cfb5d5a (accessed on 17.03.2021).

7. Joonas Berghäll. Google Knowledge panel. Available at: https://g.co/kgs/4aJKkM (accessed on 17.03.2021).

8. Iltasanomat. Available at: https://www.is.fi/viihde/art-2000007850711.html (accessed on 17.03.2021).

9. Koetsveld J, et al. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2016;7:371–7. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2015.12.010.

10. Krause P, et al. JAMA. 1996 ; 275 :1657–60. Doi: 10.1001/jama.1996.03530450047031.

11. Steere A, et al. Clin Infect Dis. 2003; 36:1078–81. Doi: 10.1086/368187.

12. Mayne P. Int J Gen Medicine. 2014; 8:15–26. Doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S75825.

13. Loebermann M, et al. Emerg Infect Dis. 2006 ; 12 :353–355. Doi: 10.3201/eid1202.050765.

14. Sumption K, et al. Lancet. 1995 ; 346 :1487–1488. Doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(95)92502-3.

15. Garg K, et al. Scientific reports vol. 8,1 15932. 29 Oct. 2018, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-34393-9

16. Connally N, et al. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2016;7:193–198. Doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2015.10.005.

17. Tickplex product page. Available at: https://www.tezted.com/tickplex(accessed on 17.03.2021).

18. European Parliament. Available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-8-2018-0465_SV.html?redirect (accessed on 17.03.2021).



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