Connecticut Business News Journal http://www.conntact.com/health/10729-do ... exist.html
Does ?Chronic? Lyme Disease Exist?
Lyme disease is a serious condition, especially here in the state of its namesake. The disease affects the joints, heart and nervous system, and it is widely assumed that when it is deemed ?chronic? that these symptoms worsen. But many researchers and physicians in Connecticut now believe that chronic Lyme disease may not even exist and that doctors treating the disease may be causing more harm than good.
Lyme disease is a multi-system infection cause by Borrelia Burgdorferi, a bacterium, and treatment usually consists of ten days to four weeks of antibiotics. If doctors are treating patients with chronic Lyme disease then those patient are receiving prolonged and intense usage of oral and intravenous antibiotics, which can cause blood clots and life-threatening infections. ?Lyme-literate? groups, such as the International Lyme & Associated Diseases Society, define chronic Lyme disease as a debilitating illness caused by a persistent infection of Borrelia Burgdorferi. Its symptoms are fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches and irritability.
Advocates of chronic Lyme disease believe that the infection can persist for months and even years, requiring long-term antibiotic treatment. However, that stance runs counter to the recommendations of many physicians groups, including the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
Michael Johnson, MD at New Haven?s Hospital of Saint Raphael and Henry M. Feder Jr., MD of the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington researched how frequently doctors in Connecticut diagnose and treat chronic Lyme disease. A survey was mailed to a random 33-percent sample of primary-care physicians in the state.
They found that of the 285 primary-care physicians who responded to the survey, about half thought that chronic Lyme disease isn?t a legitimate illness, 48 percent were undecided, and only six physicians (2.1 percent of respondents) said they did diagnose and treat chronic Lyme disease. The half-dozen doctors who did treat chronic Lyme said they treated the disease for only about 20 weeks. Thus, they do not fit into the ?Lyme literate? category because they weren?t treated for months to years.
The research suggests that for the most part chronic Lyme disease isn?t treated for months to years, a finding certain to spur controversy especially among ?Lyme literate? groups. However, chronic Lyme disease is drawing attention, and now some insurance companies are willing to cover the costs for treatment of chronic Lyme disease.