The chaos the nearly microscopic deer tick hath wrought since the disease it carries was discovered in Lyme, Connecticut in 1977 has been largely concealed from a public who loves its outdoors – its hiking, fishing, hunting, exploring and otherwise recreating.
As in the battle with the medical establishment victims fought over the very existence of AIDS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome proves, mainline physicians and their organizations and publications (like the New England Journal of Medicine resolutely refuse to accept the reality of long-term, or chronic, Lyme Disease. Chronic Lyme Disease is acute Lyme Disease gone bacterial – literally, in the human body, if not properly diagnosed and treated at the acute stage: soon after the dastardly bite of that tiny deer tick. And yet, other evidence keeps emerging showing severe symptoms the medical community so readily dismisses as psychosomatic hysteria or other causes not related to Lyme.
Minnesota – especially in the East and Central sections of the state – is 8th in states producing the most cases of Lyme, and afflicting, some say, generations in families though various forms of transmission – much like the vector-borne spirochetes in malaria and syphilis. Moreover, as climate change takes its toll on some life forms, it appears to be giving rise to more potent diseases, including Lyme and other vector-borne infections through a surge in the deer tick population.
Public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health barely acknowledge that a dispute is alive in the community, even as insurance companies refuse to cover long-term antibiotic treatment for undiagnosed acute Lyme Disease. Standard Medical literature insists that Lyme Disease is easily and quickly treated through a short regimen of antibiotics, and that anything beyond that is something else.
Where will this war between chronic Lyme believers and nonbelievers (IDSA) in the cause and effect of chronic Lyme Disease take its course? The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has opposed every effort in Lyme-rich states to protect from discipline any physician who diagnoses and treats patients for chronic Lyme. Physician-advocates who have concluded that chronic Lyme exists and treated it with years of antibiotics have been suspended or de-certified by state medical boards from continuing their practices.
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with those embroiled in this raging dispute – raging for many without much visibility – and try to sort out the conflicting views and why they’re so closely held by both sides. The reasons may – or may not – surprise you.
• DR. ELIZABETH MALONEY – Family Practice Physician (Forest Lake); Medical Advisor to MN Lyme Action Support Group (MLASG); Member of ILADS (International Lyme And Associated Diseases Society)
• LESLIE JOHNSON – Lyme Disease victim and member, St. Louis Park Lyme Support Group
• INVITED and declined: RUTH LYNFIELD, Minnesota State Epidemiologist; DR. JOHAN BAKKEN, Duluth, IDSA Lyme Guidelines author.