Lyme disease is one of the most political and controversial epidemics of our time. The disease originates from a bacteria transmitted through the bite of a tick and can remain hidden, mimicking other diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, ADHD and other neurological conditions, thus it is often called “the great imitator”. And it is growing – new cases of Lyme occur each year at a rate ten times higher than that of AIDS and the West Nile Virus combined.
Current Lyme treatment guidelines were developed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), a group associated with pharmaceutical, insurance and university interests that are profiting from the diagnostic criteria, vaccines and recommended treatments for Lyme. These guidelines, endorsed by the National Institutes of Health and the CDC, define the treatment of Lyme as a two- to four-week course of antibiotic therapy.
Physicians who believe Lyme is a more chronic condition needing long-term treatment risk losing their medical license for treating patients outside IDSA guidelines. And insurance companies refuse to pay for longer treatments despite evidence that illustrates the chronic nature of the condition and the effectiveness of long-term therapies. This leaves thousands of Lyme patients suffering from a commercialized medical community that won’t acknowledge the chronic nature of their illness and a public uneducated about a growing epidemic.
Statement of the National Non Profit Lyme Disease Association on the IDSA Guidelines Panel Decision, Lyme Disease Association, April 22, 2010. http://www.lymediseaseassociation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=616:idsa-guidelines-panel-decision-4-22-10&catid=7:conflict-report&Itemid=398
“MA Governor Signs Lyme Disease Doctor Protection Bill into Law.” Lyme Disease Association, June 30, 2010. http://www.lymediseaseassociation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=670:ma-governor-signs-lyme-disease-doctor-protection-bill-into-law-june-30-2010&catid=7:conflict-report&Itemid=398
HealthWatch: Bay Area Lyme Disease Patient Fights Insurer, CBS-San Francisco, Nov. 23, 2010. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2010/11/23/healthwatch-bay-area-lyme-disease-patient-fights-insurer
“Reported Cases of Lyme Disease by Year.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Posted: August 26, 2010. http://www.cdc.gov /ncidod/dvbid/lyme/ ld_UpClimbLymeDis.htm
“Basic Information about Lyme Disease,” ILADS – International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. http://www.ilads.org/lyme_disease/about_lyme.html
“Under Our Skin,” Documentary, Andy Wilson, Director. Open Eye Productions, 2008. http://www.underourskin.com
Student Researcher: Ashley Myers, San Francisco State University
Faculty Advisor: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University