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Commentary: Diagnosis, treatment of Lyme Disease controversial

May 24, 2015 12:15 am

By Prof. Holly Ahern

The recent letter to the editor by Lauren Meilhede, M.D. to a Post-Star article underscores the controversy that surrounds the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. As a scientist with experience sorting through scholarly research on microbiology and medicine, I would like to address some of the misinformation communicated by Dr. Meilhede in her letter.

The IDSA medical guidelines defines Lyme disease as an acute infectious disease that can be reliably diagnosed and easily treated with 10 to 28 days of antibiotics. Dr. Meilhede purports that only a “small minority” of patients fail to have a quick resolution of their disease symptoms when treated according to this standard of care.

According to the CDC: “Approximately 10 to 20 percent of patients treated for Lyme disease with a recommended 2 to 4 week course of antibiotics will have lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches. In some cases, these can last for more than 6 months.”

The CDC now estimates more than 312,000 new cases of Lyme disease occur annually, and therefore more than 60,000 people per year are left undertreated for this infectious disease when the IDSA standard of care is rigidly followed. Thus, such cases are not “rare.” For perspective, there are more people with unresolved Lyme disease symptoms than there are reported cases of HIV/AIDS (approximately 56,000) per year….

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