TUCSON, Ariz., Aug. 25, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- While Zika is grabbing headlines as an emerging disease, another arthropod-borne condition, Lyme disease, remains in the shadows although it affects far more Americans, with about 300,000 new cases per year, states the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).
The CDC states it is the most common vector-borne disease in the U.S. It is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burdorferi, a type of bacteria that is prevalent in small mammals and transmitted by the bite of the blacklegged tick.
The acute disease, if recognized, is readily treated with antibiotics. Controversy surrounds the claim that many cases become chronic, causing a severely debilitating illness that continues for decades. Some experts doubt the occurrence of the chronic form, especially if commonly used tests are negative, AAPS notes.
Guidelines from the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) are the only ones that CDC links to. IDSA has opposed the use of long-term antibiotics for patients some doctors believe to have persistent Lyme symptoms. Thus, therapy is generally not covered by insurance. Worse, doctors who prescribe this treatment may risk the loss of their medical career. During one period, virtually every physician in New York State who treated chronic Lyme patients was investigated by the licensure board, writes AAPS member Kenneth Liegner, M.D., in his book In the Crucible of Chronic Lyme Disease.
Fortunately, New York State passed a law offering some protection for doctors who treat outside IDSA guidelines. However, patient advocates contend that hundreds of thousands of patients are untreated or undertreated because influential experts insist that they have a “fictitious” or “nuisance” disease, states AAPS.
A petition initiated by Carl Tuttle of Hudson, N.H., on change.org calls for a congressional investigation of CDC, IDSA, and the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF) for allegedly spreading disinformation about the disease and preventing patients from receiving adequate treatment. A key issue, states AAPS Executive Director Jane Orient, M.D., is control of research funding, information dissemination, and practice standards by government and government-favored private interests.
“Many patients are suffering severe neurologic, cardiac, and other problems, but their doctors face serious personal risk if they diagnose and treat for Lyme outside the accepted guidelines,” she stated.
“There is evidence that Lyme is an emerging public health crisis in the Northeast and upper Midwest. It is often difficult to diagnose, and the bacteria may become highly resistant to antibiotics.”
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943 to preserve private medicine and the patient-physician relationship.
Last updated on: 27/08/2016
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