Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is an infection and is caused by a spirochete bacteria that is transmitted primarily from the bite of a small tick (about the size of a poppy seed). Most people who have contracted Lyme disease do not recall a tick bite. If a person has a tick bite, and develops the classic "Bull's eye rash", then antibiotic treatment should be instituted as soon as possible to avoid a chronic persistent infection, which can be harder and take longer to treat.

There is tremendous controversy in the medical community and with government agencies about Lyme disease. One organization, the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) maintains that it is a very rare, simple infection easily cured with a three week treatment with a single antibiotic and that further treatment, even if the patient has ongoing symptoms, is inappropriate. Many patient activist groups and another physician organization, The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) maintain that Lyme disease is a serious, often chronic infection that can affect every organ in the body and can cause very serious and disabling symptoms and sometimes death.  They urge people who suspect they have Lyme disease to seek treatment with physicians who have a more complete knowledge of the research on this disease and who understand the need for more aggressive treatment of people who are ill after a conservative course of treatment.  They support ongoing treatment until symptoms are resolved and the patient is well.  ILADS also provides information on other infections which are commonly seen in patients with Lyme disease, and which are also commonly transmitted by a tick bite.  There is research demonstrating possible/probable transmission of lyme bacteria and some of the co-infections via sexual contact, through the placenta to a fetus,  and through breast milk to an infant.

The testing for Lyme disease is also fraught with controversy on the interpretation of Lyme testing results.  There is, in my opinion, no laboratory test that will provide 99-100% certainty that a particular person has an infection. There have been studies published that demonstrate a high percentage of patients with certain active infections who will test as negative on lab tests.  For this reason, ILADS recommends that the physician interpreting the lyme test results be knowledgeable about all of the signs and symptoms that would increase the likelihood of the patient having an infection, and that they make their diagnosis based on clinical presentation, lab tests, possible exposure in a Lyme endemic area (presence in community known to have patients who have contracted Lyme disease), and the presence of a rash or recent history of a rash. All of these factors should be part of the consideration of the diagnosis, not any one of them alone, (other than the presence of a classic "Bull's eye rash").

Click here  to view a pdf on the interpretation of test results for Lyme disease.
Click here to view a pdf on the treatment of Herxheimer reactions.

If a patient tests negative for lyme, but is ill and has possible risk of exposure to ticks, consider testing for infections that are also found in ticks, as follows:  Babesia (microti or duncani are common in the United States and are the only Babesia tests available, though there are many other species of Babesia in the US) Ehrlichea/Anaplasma, and Bartonella, (positive tests results are cause for suspicion of infection, even weak antibody responses, as there are many who have the infection and it is quiescent because of multiple other infections.

I am a member of ILADS and am participating in the Physician's Preceptorship Training Program sponsored by ILADS and Turn The Corner Foundation.  I treat patients with Lyme disease using ILADS treatment guidelines and work with my patients on their preferences for treatment, utilizing herbs, supplements and antibiotics. I also treat the many hormonal disturbances caused by chronic lyme disease which helps my patients feel better while pursuing treatment.  Hormonal disturbances can cause more severe systemic pain, fatigue, libido problems, weakness, low body temperature and low blood pressure.  Select "Contact Us" on menu above to send an email inquiry