NEWS: Wall Street Journal looks at tick protection and controversy over Lyme treatment
In two separate articles, the Wall Street Journal health blog discusses prediction of a bad tick year in 2012 and the ILADS-IDSA dispute over how to treat Lyme disease. ILADS President Leo Shea is quoted in both.
- THE INFORMED PATIENT
- Updated March 27, 2012, 9:29 a.m. ET
This Season’s Ticking Bomb
Warm Weather Means Ticks Will Be Out Early; A ‘Horrific’ Season for Lyme and Other Diseases
by Laura Landro
They can wait for months, clinging to the edge of a blade of grass or a bush, for the whiff of an animal’s breath or vibration telling them a host approaches.
They are ticks—and when they attach to your skin and feed on your blood over many days, they can transmit diseases. Often hard to diagnose and tricky to treat, tick-borne illnesses—led by Lyme disease—can cause symptoms ranging from headache and muscle aches, to serious and long-term complications that affect the brain, joints, heart, nerves and muscles. Preventing bites to head off illness is particularly important, experts say, because the complex interaction between ticks, their hosts, bacteria and habitats isn’t completely understood.
Warmer temperatures are leading some experts to warn that tick activity is starting earlier than usual this year, putting more people at risk.
“This is going to be a horrific season, especially for Lyme,” says Leo J. Shea III, a clinical assistant professor at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, part of New York University Langone Medical Center. He is also president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society.
From the Wall Street Journal health blog:
- March 27, 2012, 11:33 AM
Doctors Clash Over Best Treatments for Lyme Disease
By Laura Landro
As tick-borne illnesses continue to spread, a long-running dispute between two groups of medical professionals over how best to treat Lyme disease continues to simmer.
As WSJ reports in today’s Informed Patient column, efforts are underway to prevent people and their pets from picking up illnesses that ticks carry, led by Lyme, which is most common in 12 states, primarily in the Northeast, but is expanding across the U.S.
Patients may have a rash that looks like a bull’s eye; once Lyme is diagnosed using blood tests and a physical exam, guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America call for standard treatment of a two-week course of antibiotic, with one or two antibiotic courses lasting four weeks each recommended only for certain late-stage types of the disease such as a form of Lyme arthritis.
But another group, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, says Lyme may become chronic, and its guidelines say continuing treatment for several months or even longer for those patients is reasonable.