If you suspect Lyme disease, don’t wait to act
Editor The News:
Your recent article concerning Lyme disease was timely and spot on.
As Dr. Flores indicated, the bulls-eye rash is definitive for infection by the Lyme spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb). However, the bite does not always produce the rash. Researchers familiar with the disease now recommend a diagnosis based on symptoms – headaches, joint pain, fatigue – that suddenly occur. If Lyme infection is suspected, the blood test may reveal if the patient has been exposed to the organism.
Unfortunately, false negatives can occur because the test is specific for only a couple species of Bb, and there are many. Most important, if infection is suspected, insist on antibiotic treatment immediately. The spirochete is particularly vulnerable to antibiotics early on while in the peripheral vascular system (bloodstream). Unless treated quickly, it forms resting stages in body tissues, after which antibiotic treatment is ineffective.
The result is chronic Lyme disease, which many physicians (and insurance companies) refuse to recognize. Research indicates Bb may persist within the body indefinitely, with only treatment of symptoms possible.
Several summers ago, I experienced the onset of daily fatigue, joint pain and occasional headaches that I attributed to aging. I foolishly waited six months until my yearly physical. The blood test revealed Lyme exposure. My doctor assured me the nightmare reports about the disease were inflated and that three weeks of antibiotics would cure me. He was wrong. The symptoms persisted.
A specialist in infectious disease said, be patient – the symptoms will abate. They didn’t. Another specialist placed me on a regimen of several antibiotics and supplements, also with no effect. The moral: Don’t wait. If symptoms appear, visit your physician and get the blood test. Antibiotics are warranted regardless. Co-infection by other bacterial organisms that ticks carry is also possible.
More detailed information regarding Bb is available online. One excellent source is “Healing Lyme,” by Stephen H. Buhner.