‘Chronic Lyme Disease’ Debate Reaches US Capitol
Excerpted from Healthline: 10/07/2014)
The mainstream Infectious Diseases Society of America says there’s no such thing as ‘chronic Lyme disease,’ but patients with debilitating and mysterious illnesses have come to the nation’s capitol to urge Congress to fund more research.
The debate over chronic illnesses stemming from tick bites has landed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
The House of Representatives last month approved legislation introduced by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) that would require the federal government to conduct and support research on Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. The Tick-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 still needs to pass through the U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, this weekend, doctors, patients, and Lyme disease advocates will assemble in Washington, D.C., for the 15th annual convention of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS).
It’s an important time for people suffering from illnesses they believe are related to tick bites. A longstanding feud between the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and ILADS is raging with new fervor as more and more people nationwide report debilitating symptoms that last for decades. The IDSA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have created treatment guidelines for Lyme disease based on a number of scientific studies showing that a short course of antibiotics can clear the infection in most people, though several studies mention that one or more subjects experienced “residual symptoms.”
Patients who believe they have chronic Lyme disease don’t accept the answers doctors give them — that their Lyme disease should be gone after a maximum of four weeks of antibiotics, and that any lingering symptoms probably are not related to an ongoing Lyme infection. ‘Chronic Lyme disease’ is not a widely recognized medical diagnosis.
Miserable patients seeking relief, and doctors who have no idea how to help them, have created a culture of extreme mistrust. Patients think most conventional doctors are labeling them as hypochondriacs without making any real effort to help. Most doctors say they can’t help these patients because they do not in fact have chronic Lyme disease. They say other doctors who claim that they can treat chronic Lyme disease are offering false hope, acting unethically, and possibly offering patients treatments that are harmful.
Bill ‘Acknowledges Our Chronic Lyme Sufferers’
Gibson’s legislation calls for basic, epidemiological, translational, and clinical research on Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. It requires biennial progress reports from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).