May Is Lyme Disease Awareness Month; Where it All Stands
It is Lyme disease awareness month. The perfect time to ruminate on where things currently stand with this profound medical issue.
Some exciting progress has been made in the last year. The CDC announced that the number of cases of Lyme disease occurring in the US annually is estimated to be about 300,000; ten times higher than previously estimated. This is a validating admission and step in the right direction.
Because it is so prevalent there is much more media coverage around Lyme disease; more people graciously telling their stories to promote awareness. This is wonderful. I think at this point in time most people have heard of Lyme disease and have some idea of what it is. I hope! I do think most people have no comprehension of the severity of tick borne infections though.
Several states, including Vermont most recently, have passed bills to protect physicians that prescribe long term antibiotic therapy as needed, beyond the 30 days as outlined by the CDC. This will encourage more doctors to learn about these infections and treat as necessary without the fear of losing their license to practice. Wow! This means that in time and with the proper education amongst physicians and practitioners, you should be able to get treated for these infections from your local doctor as opposed to leaving the state to seek out a Lyme specialist. Some gray areas here in the immediate future, but again, a hugely positive step.
The CDC guidelines are still prescribing only a 30 day course of treatment for patients with a positive Lyme antibody test. These guidelines need to be updated. Unless caught very early after transmission, 30 days of antibiotic therapy will not cure the infection. Many states still have not passed a Lyme bill protecting practitioners.
There are still no standard accurate tests to determine if a patient has Lyme. And by this I refer to a test that you can get through your primary doctor that will be covered by insurance; in other words, what mainstream medicine is using. Current standard tests are insensitive and only accurate about 30% of the time or so. Standard tests look for antibodies in the blood and there is a window of time that the body produces these antibodies. Too soon after infection and the body isn’t producing them yet, too long after and the body stops producing the antibodies. No positive test result often means no treatment.
Ticks carry and transmit more than just Lyme disease which is why the term tick borne infections is used. They also carry Babesiosis, a parasitic infection that is similar to malaria, Bartonellosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Powassan virus which has a decent mortality rate, Tularemia, and more. Mainstream medical is not looking and testing for these co-infections. You can be infected with Bartonella and not have Borrelia Bergdorferi, the Lyme disease bacteria. Testing for these co-infections is often futile because many of these microbes have multiple strains and current testing looks for only 2 or 3 strains. Having multiple tick borne infections complicates the picture; the immune system becomes severely compromised. Bringing the body back into balance is more involved and must take a full body healing approach.
Progress is happening! Breathe.....
Much more is needed and there are many questions still to be answered. I am confident this will happen though! There are too many incredible, passionate, and conscientious human beings behind these issues for it not to.
All for now on this subject,
I would like to note that I am not promoting any specific treatment for these infections and seeing a specialist specific to your condition is of utmost importance.