The Chronic Lyme Disease Controversy

In the previous post, we briefly discussed the life cycle of the blacklegged tick Ixodes scapularis and some of the symptoms of Lyme disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. However, properly diagnosing Lyme disease without the telltale rash and using inadequate testing can be very challenging for doctors.

• In a 1996 New York State Department of Health study of 1,535 Lyme disease patients, 81% of the patients who did not produce a rash did not test positive using the combined ELISA and Western blot tests.

• In 2005 another study was published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, Dr. Antonella Marangoni found discrepant results in three different commercially available ELISA tests using the same blood sample.

• In 2007 another study was published in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Ray Stricker and Lorraine Johnson found the combined ELISA and Western blot tests to have overall sensitivity of 56%.

• Dr. Amy Myers (author of The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases) prefers the iSpot Lyme test for its accuracy. She contends the combined ELISA and Western blot tests have produced too many false negatives meaning the patients did have Lyme disease.

• In a 2006 study conducted for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists demonstrated that early detection and treatment of Lyme disease resulted in a one time “burden of disease” cost of less than $1,500. However, if the patient was not diagnosed early and became sicker, then the BOD cost soared to over $16,000 per year for many years.

• Dr. Richard Horowitz (author of Why Can’t I Get Better) uses the approach that there can be 16 categories of illness associated with Lyme disease. Also, he noted that 25% of his patients who were treated early for Lyme disease appeared to develop chronic symptoms. In addition, he found that many Lyme disease patients with co-infections have severe concentration and memory issues.

Once a patient is found to have Lyme disease, then conventional medicine prescribes a course of antibiotics from 2 to 4 weeks. However, the length of treatment has become hotly debated for “chronic” Lyme disease. As a result, some doctors have lost their medical license for extending antibiotic treatments beyond the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s (IDSA) guidelines, some HMO’s believe “chronic” Lyme disease doesn’t exist, numerous patients have needlessly suffered with what is known as “chronic” or “post-Lyme syndrome”, Connecticut conducted antitrust investigations against insurance companies and the IDSA guidelines, and states like California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have enacted laws to protect licensed physicians who dispense longer-term antibiotics to patients with Lyme disease.

According to Dr. Richard Horowitz, Lyme disease can cause many neuropsychiatric disorders like seizures, migraine headaches, uncontrolledPortrait of a woman with severe headache anger, and cognitive deficits; can be associated with Tourette’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, and can mimic autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and many other illnesses commonly seen in medical practices today.

Doctors are taught to look for one cause for all the patient’s symptoms, HMO’s dictate 15 minutes per patient, so combining these two models may be an impossible task for a doctor to formulate a diagnosis. Dr. Horowitz has a solution! He has compiled a comprehensive list of questions for his patients to answer so he can determine the probability of Lyme disease. If you believe you have Lyme disease, you can begin by answering the questions on page 34 through 37 from his book Why Can’t I Get Better? : Solving the Mystery of Lyme & Chronic Disease. Once you have completed these questions take them and your answers to your doctor. Additionally, you will find a chapter called the Horowitz Sixteen-Point Differential Diagnostic Map listing symptoms, possible related medical conditions and laboratory testing to consider that begins on page 68 through 80.

This book comes highly recommended by Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution, Pamela Weintraub, author of Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic, and others. The book contains Dr. Richard I. Horowitz’s knowledge from his medical practice of more than twenty-six years, treating over twelve thousand patients for which most did not have “pure” Lyme disease and condensing that information into 500+ easy to understand pages.

Click here to see the video clip Under Our Skin: The Untold Story of Lyme Disease

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For my next post, we will look at Crohn’s disease.

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