Disagreement over best Lyme disease treatment

March 1, 2010 9:45:17 AM PST
Lyme disease is an infection caused by a type of bacteria carried by the black-legged deer tick. When the bacterium is transmitted through a bite, a round, bull's-eye-shaped rash normally appears around the rash. Symptoms that can follow include flu-like symptoms like body aches and fever, swelling of the joints and facial paralysis.

TREATMENT: WHAT WORKS? According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the vast majority of Lyme disease cases are easily treated and cured with common antibiotic therapies. This type of therapy involves a single course of antibiotics for 10 to 28 days, depending on the stage of illness. While the IDSA states long-term antibiotic therapy -- or treatment past the 28 days -- can be dangerous and lead to potentially fatal infections in the bloodstream, some doctors are taking that route. One of those doctors is Michael Cichon, M.D., an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist in Tampa, Fla. He believes long-term antibiotic therapy is overlooked as a sometimes necessary treatment. "That's why we have people who are chronically ill -- because we never killed [the infection] in the beginning," Dr. Cichon told Ivanhoe.

There is also a conflict in the field of Lyme disease treatment concerning whether or not a diagnosis of "chronic Lyme disease" is accurate. The IDSA states "scientific data do not support a separate diagnosis of 'chronic' Lyme disease" and recommends patients with symptoms that persist after antibiotic treatment talk to their physicians about "whether the original diagnosis was accurate or if they may have a different or new illness." The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says experts in the field do not support the use of the term "chronic Lyme disease."

PREVALENCE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 20,000 people get Lyme Disease each year, and the IDSA says nearly all cases of the infection occur in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. According to the CDC, over 27,000 cases of Lyme disease took place nationally in 2007, but the number has dropped to about 25,000 since then.

For More Information, Contact:

David Balkwill, PhD
University of Central Florida College of Medicine
Orlando, FL

Susan Ganio
Nurse to Dr. Michael Cichon
Tampa, FL
(813) 985-5513