Docs At Odds Over Best Lyme Disease Treatment
Experts Say There's A Lot To Learn About Disease
POSTED: 1:51 pm EDT April 14, 2005
UPDATED: 2:00 pm EDT April 14, 2005
BOSTON -- If you are bitten by a tick and develop symptoms, what happens next depends largely on the doctor you see.
NewsCenter 5's Rhonda Mann reported that's because there's a controversy growing between doctors who say Lyme disease can usually be treated with no more than one month of therapy, doctors who say aggressive therapy over a period of years is sometimes the only cure.
In Ipswich last month, townspeople discussed what they call an "epidemic of Lyme disease" in their community. Most said despite the prevalence of deer ticks in the region, they were misdiagnosed by local doctors. The misdiagnoses meant delays in getting the antibiotic treatment that can cure the disease in early stages.
"If it wasn't for my wife and friends who proposed the idea of Lyme disease, I wouldn't be alive today," said James Balesteri.
After airing a story on that town meeting, NewsCenter 5 received dozens of e-mails from people from all around the state, all with the same concern, that their doctors didn't recognize Lyme disease, or when they did, they failed to give the appropriate treatment.
The latest guidelines state patients who develop fever and a rash after a tick bite should be given oral antibiotics for up to one month. If neurological symptoms or arthritis develops, one month of intravenous antibiotics is recommended, and prolonged use of the drug is not.
Marlena Collins, 15, has Lyme disease. She once danced in the Boston Ballet's Nutcracker, but today, she cannot.
"I have trouble writing right now and I, um, I, like, twitch sometimes and get really tired easily," she said.
Collins' Lyme disease diagnosis was late, about six months after having the bulls-eye rash from a tick bite. Intravenous antibiotics helped, but doctors, citing the guidelines, have been hesitant to keep her on them. Whenever the antibiotics run out, Collins relapses.
"I thought I lived in the best in the world with hospitals here, and I feel like I'm in a box trying to get out. It's very scary. I feel like I'm all alone fighting for my child," said Collins' mother, Sandy Connors.
"There are a lot of doctors that just don't want to get involved with the controversy and will refer patient onto someone else. I do think that leaves some patients in a lurch," said Dr. Jonathan Edlow of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Edlow, author of a book on Lyme disease, said most doctors are doing a better job at recognizing Lyme disease and treating it early. But when it comes to later-stage disease, there is still a lot to learn.
From The Boston Channel.Com