Researchers: Florida doctors reluctant to diagnose Lyme disease

Excerpted from the Tampa Tribune  ( Posted: 01/24/2011 ) 

For more than two years, Dolores Claesson has fought a microscopic enemy, a germ passed into her 17-year-old daughter, Sofia, by a sesame seed-size tick.

If caught early, Lyme disease could have been easily treated, said Dolores Claesson, who runs a support group and manages a widespread network of Lyme disease patents and researchers. But because the malady has not really found a home in Florida yet, she said, doctors here are reluctant to diagnose it.

And some medical researchers agree, saying many doctors simply are complying with a study by the Infectious Diseases Society of America that warns against over-diagnosing Lyme disease because its symptoms are so complex and mimic other ailments.

In Sofia’s case, doctors misdiagnosed her disease and mistreated it, stretching her sickness from days to months and eventually years. Now, her immune system is depleted and she is a perfect host to any virus that comes along, her mom said. Just this week, the teen spent eight hours in a doctor’s office getting an intravenous antibiotic drip.

In October 2008, Sofia contracted a high fever, a sore throat and her doctor said it was mono, Dolores Claesson said, and referred the teen to other physicians.

“A pediatric physician said it was fatigue syndrome,” Claesson said, “that it was hormonal and common among high achieving girls. He told me to take her on a 20-minute walk three times a week and she would be fine.” The doctor also advised Claesson to take her daughter to a psychiatrist.

After a while, Sofia developed warts on bottoms of her feet and began sleeping 20 hours a day, her mom said.

“In all,” she said, “we saw about 20 doctors.”

None thought of Lyme disease.

“This is normal.” Claesson said. “They don’t know about it. They don’t know the signs and symptoms. In the Northeast, it’s different. But here in Florida, doctors don’t know about it and don’t know how to diagnose it. They don’t know how to treat it.

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~ by Rob on January 25, 2011.

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