‘Chronic Lyme’ hornet nest still buzzing at physician convention in San Diego

Tick

(Photo courtesy Pixabay)

I had no idea the hornet’s nest surrounding the “chronic Lyme” debate still was buzzing. Apparently, it is.

I attended, “In Your Back Yard and Getting Closer: Vector Borne Illnesses.” The presenter, Dr. Stephen Gluckman, spent a huge chunk of time informing his colleagues why they should not prescribe antibiotics to individuals who claim to have an active Lyme infection but do not.

He said patients will show up complaining of “body aches and mental cloudiness” and claim it’s a Lyme infection.

Some will insist they even have tested positive for certain antibodies which may indicate a Lyme infection. There is no certain test for Lyme disease.

“The mistake is explaining the antibodies created those symptoms (they are reporting),” he said. “It’s the wrong diagnosis. Lyme is a very easy bug to treat if you have it. And you can catch it again. But it won’t be because your original bug was improperly treated and you relapsed.”

When a patient presents with a red patch that can be a bug bite, be sure to ask how long the spot has been there. Sometimes red spots go away rather quickly, Gluckman said.

Was the patient in the woods or in some other location where they could have encountered a tick or other vector? If so, for example in cases where the tick was seen and even removed, and brought it to the doctor, or removed by the doctor themselves, what diseases does that species of tick carry? Is it even a tick that carries Lyme? Focus on what diseases the species carries. Not all ticks carry the same bugs, pardon the pun. It’s very important to bring the bug into the doctor’s office, if possible.

“Don’t grease up the tick” tying to remove it, Gluckman warned. It allows the tick to hold on even tighter.

When Dr. Gluckman will prescribe antibiotics

“Yes, I’m beating this to death, which I am trying to do, and hopefully successfully,” Gluckman said. He spent at least half of the 90-minute session explaining there is a growing movement of people who believe they have active Lyme infections even though they do not test positive for it, at least not using tests that are acceptable to the medical establishment.

I waded into this “chronic Lyme story” mess almost three years ago, in 2014. First I wrote this piece for HealthlineNews, originally headlined, “No, you don’t have chronic Lyme disease.” Hate mail poured in from around the world. For months.

Then I wrote this piece about Lyme becoming the topic of debate in Washington. In a nutshell, the truth is that this movement has gained quite a bit of momentum.

But the pro-chronic Lyme people have been venomous and nasty. One woman even suggested my father really had Lyme disease and not a rare brain disease at all.

Wow.

Gluckman said he believes these patients who claim to be chronic Lyme sufferers need to be affirmed regardless. “I tell them I know they are suffering and I hope they get the proper treatment. But it’s not Lyme.

“It’s tricky when you start treating people with no objective evidence of disease.”

Gluckman said there are cases where he sees potential bug bites and is not hesitant to use antibiotics. This most often happens when people report flu-like symptoms in the summertime. This is because there is no summertime flu and depending on where a patient may have been they could have been bitten by an insect, some of which carry diseases with poor or even fatal outcomes the longer the delay in treatment.

 

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