Dear Discovery Channel:
Don’t get me wrong. I do love Shark Week. This year’s series from July 6th-10th was no different. The build-up. Intensity. Fearful excitement. All part of a cult-like annual rite of summer.
Bill Gates decided to declare that same week Mosquito Week. He was was quoted as saying, “Considering their impact, you might expect mosquitoes to get more attention than they do. Sharks kill fewer than a dozen people every year in the U.S. and they get a week dedicated to them on TV”…referring of course to Shark Week. Malaria from mosquito bites is responsible for 600,000 deaths per year. But there is not show for this.
Which got me to wondering, Discovery Channel. Would you consider…”Spirochete Week”?There is no show for this, either. I wonder how it would even be categorized? Documentary? Murder Mystery? Medical Mystery? Drama? Political debate? Crime series? All of the above?
I get what Mr. Gates is saying. The incidence of shark attacks world-wide is 75 each year. The incidence of Lyme Disease caused by tick attacks? Estimated to be somewhere between 300,000 to 1.5 million each year.
Perhaps, Discovery Channel, some similarities between Shark Week and Spirochete Week would help convince you that it is worth covering:
Shark Week: Shark week is an annual, week-long programming block which features shark-based programming, criticized in recent years for mixing fictional with real accounts.
Spirochete Week: Lyme Disease is an annual mental block for scientists that struggle to discover anything about the disease at all, and charge that patients accounts are more fiction than fact.
Shark Week: Originally premiered on July 17, 1988.
Spirochete Week: In 1982, the name Borrelia “Burgdorferi” premiered, when the spirochete was named after the scientist Willy Burgdorfer, who found the connection between deer ticks and Lyme disease.
Shark Week: Held annually, normally in July or August, it was created to raise awareness and respect for sharks. It literally became a monster hit.
Spirochete Week: Borrelia is very popular in July or August ,when tick populations are in great abundance, as are individuals enjoying outdoor activities. Many people are hit with the disease during this time.
Shark Week: Since 2010, it has been the longest-running cable television event in history. It is broadcast in over 72 countries and is heavily promoted on Facebook and Twitter.
Spirochete Week: Since 2010, the number of confirmed and probable cases has continued to rise. Lyme disease is now in 80+ countries worldwide and people’s desperate plights are increasingly being shared via Facebook and Twitter.
Shark Week: Shark bites can cause severe muscle pain, joint paint, loss of use of limbs, or loss of life.
Spirochete Week: Tick bites can cause severe muscle pain, joint paint, loss of use of limbs, or loss of life.
Shark Week: Sharks live in the deep oceans.
Spirochete Week: Spirochetes live deep in tissues.
Shark Week: There are over 500 species of sharks.
Spirochete Week: There are over 300 species of Borrelia.
Shark Week: Most feared culprits are Great white, tiger, and bull sharks.
Spirochete Week: Most feared culprits are Borrellia, bartonella, and babesia.
In fact, I will even propose the following titles for episodes, based on current Shark Week titles, to make your job even easier:
Monday: Instead of “Return of the Great White Serial Killer” how about “Return of the Great White Spiral Killer?”
Tuesday: Instead of “Bride of Jaws” how about “Bride of Jaw Pain?”
Wednesday: Instead of “Ninja Sharks” how about “Ninja Spirochetes?”
Thursday: Instead of “Super Predator” how about….oh just keep “Super Predator”
Friday: Instead of “Sharks of the Shadowland” how about “Ticks of the Meadowland?”
I hope, Discovery Channel, that I have made a strong case for future coverage of Spirochete Week. And Mr. Gates, any contribution, financial or otherwise, you’d like to make to the cause would be much appreciated.