‘Chronic Lyme disease’ is a highly debated topic, one with no scientific support. But that doesn’t stop Lyme truthers and the docs who take advantage of them.
Caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, the illness is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick. Practicing as a pediatrician in a part of the country where the disease is endemic, I’ve treated a fair share of patients for it. Most have been straightforward cases where the child came in with the characteristic rash. A few have been more complicated and have presented in later stages, including arthritis and meningitis, which required more extensive testing and longer treatment. But in all cases, the appropriate course of antibiotics has been curative.
Yet there’s something about Lyme that makes some parents fear even the possibility of their child being infected, despite there being effective treatment regimens. I have faced demands that children be put on weeks of antibiotics (the treatment for more advanced stages of the disease) after merely being bitten by a tick, in the off chance that it was carrying the disease. The one time I acquiesced to being thusly mau-maued is one of a handful of clinical decisions that make me truly angry with myself in retrospect.
The problem of antibiotic resistance is too serious to be doling them out without good reason, and I’m resolved not to do so again. In a similar vein, Lyme is brought up again and again when parents bring in their kids for any number of vague complaints, typically some combination of malaise or fatigue. In almost none of these circumstances does Lyme disease seem likely, but everyone wants testing done anyhow. The results are almost always negative, and when they are equivocal it rarely is an indication of actual illness.
Undergirding all of this>>>