Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chronic Lyme disease: How often is it diagnosed and treated?

Date:
September 7, 2010
Source:
Elsevier Health Sciences
Summary:
The existence of chronic Lyme disease is an issue of sharp debate within the medical community. Many doctors are concerned with the potential dangers associated with the prolonged and intensive use of oral and intravenous antibiotics (the recommended treatment for chronic Lyme disease), such as blood clots and life threatening infections. A new study attempts to determine how often chronic Lyme disease is actually being diagnosed and treated.

The existence of chronic Lyme disease is an issue of sharp debate within the medical community. Some health care workers who call themselves "Lyme literate" insist that chronic Lyme disease is frequently diagnosed and treated by primary care physicians. Others, however, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, state that there is no convincing biological evidence that chronic Lyme disease exists. Many doctors are concerned with the potential dangers associated with the prolonged and intensive use of oral and intravenous antibiotics (the recommended treatment for chronic Lyme disease), such as blood clots and life threatening infections.

Related Articles


A study soon to be published in The Journal of Pediatrics attempts to determine how often chronic Lyme disease is actually being diagnosed and treated.

Named for a community in Connecticut where it was first diagnosed, Lyme disease is a multi-system infection caused by the bacteria B. burgdoferi. Treatment typically includes a 10-28 day course of oral antibiotics. "Lyme literate" groups, such as the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), define chronic Lyme disease as a debilitating illness caused by a persistent infection of B. burgdoferi; symptoms include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and irritability. Treatment requires oral and/or intravenous antibiotic therapy that can last from several months to several years.

Dr. Michael Johnson, now at the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, and Dr. Henry Feder, of the University of Connecticut Health Center, attempted to determine how frequently Connecticut doctors were diagnosing and treating chronic Lyme disease. Of the 285 primary care physicians who responded to the survey, nearly one-half did not believe that chronic Lyme disease is a legitimate diagnosis, and 48% were undecided. Only 6 physicians -- or 2.1% -- diagnosed and treated patients for chronic Lyme disease. These 6 physicians treated patients for an average of 20 weeks with oral antibiotics; however, because these six physicians did not treat their patients with months to years of oral and/or intravenous antibiotics, they do not fit into the "Lyme literate" category.

Contrary to the assertions of the "Lyme literate" community, Dr. Feder does not believe intravenous antibiotic treatment is common practice. "The 6 physicians in our study who treated patients with chronic Lyme disease do not fit into the 'Lyme literate' group," he explains, "because they treated their patients for an average of 20 weeks -- not months to years -- and it does not appear that intravenous therapy was used." According to Dr. Feder, "Physicians who diagnose patients with chronic Lyme disease, and put these patients in harm's way with months to years of potentially dangerous antibiotics, are outliers." These findings call into question the claims of "Lyme literate" advocacy groups, like ILADS, that chronic Lyme disease is frequently diagnosed and treated by many primary care physicians.

Although the number of physicians diagnosing and treating patients with chronic Lyme disease may be small, their influence seems to be growing. "The 'Lyme literate' network has been pivotal in advocating legislation in multiple states requiring insurance companies to cover the costs of intravenous therapy for presumed chronic Lyme disease," Dr. Feder notes. The debate over chronic Lyme disease is likely to continue as insurance companies and legislative bodies become more involved.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Johnson, Henry Feder. Chronic Lyme Disease: A Survey of Connecticut Primary Care Physicians. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.06.031

Cite This Page:

Elsevier Health Sciences. "Chronic Lyme disease: How often is it diagnosed and treated?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100902073502.htm>.
Elsevier Health Sciences. (2010, September 7). Chronic Lyme disease: How often is it diagnosed and treated?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100902073502.htm
Elsevier Health Sciences. "Chronic Lyme disease: How often is it diagnosed and treated?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100902073502.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) Carnegie Mellon researchers found frequent hugs can help people avoid stress-related illnesses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins