California Lyme Disease Association President Corrects Florida Newspaper Mistakes
Your article on Lyme disease was full of good information Ð until you started talking about "over-treating."
According to a CALDA survey, more than 50% of people with Lyme disease have their diagnosis delayed for 3 years because their doctor misused the CDC surveillance criteria for diagnosis, counter to the CDC's own warnings. We know that people whose diagnosis is delayed are more likely to develop persistent Lyme disease and suffer profound morbidity (equivalent to those with congestive heart failure or osteoarthritis). We know that 25% of people with Lyme are children age 15 and under. We also know that the risks of side effects from antibiotic therapy are relatively small. The physician's code of "Do No Harm," coupled with the severity of the condition, compel us to err on the side of treatment.
Clearly, there is a strong need for more studies on the treatment of persistent Lyme disease. However, the idea that physicians should refrain from treating patients until better science comes along undoubtedly holds greater appeal to insurers and researchers than patients. Antibiotics are the only demonstrated effective form of treatment for persistent Lyme disease. Even the strongest proponents of evidence-based medicine would not require that patients go untreated pending stronger research.
The human, monetary and societal costs of misdiagnosis and non-treatment are enormous given that delays in diagnosis are common and make Lyme disease much more difficult to treat. Please urge Florida doctors to seek information from the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (www.ilads.org) before deciding not to treat someone with Lyme disease.
Phyllis Mervine, President
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Reprinted with permission and my thanks.
To Your Health!