Christine Green, MD’s Commentary –
A colleague, Dr. Nevena Zubcevik, recently sent me an email that commented on Lyme Disease testing. I’ve included her email in lieu of my commentary. The Wall Street Journal article on the same topic appears below.
There are 37 known species of bacteria that cause Lyme disease, but the current Lyme 2 tier test inadequately tests even for the one spirochete it is designed for—Borrelia burgdorferi. Because of this inadequacy, we are missing many Borreliosis infections, and our patients are subjected to immeasurable suffering because they aren’t receiving timely antimicrobial therapy. Research shows that such patients might go on to receive faulty diagnoses of psychosomatic, psychiatric or neuromuscular illnesses instead of prescriptions for antibiotics that would cure their causative infections.
A paper co-authored by Barbara Johnson, an expert with the CDC Lyme Program, reveals the current two-tier method is positive in only 31% of those with erythema migrans (the bull’s eye rash associated with Lyme disease) and in only 63% of those with acute neuroborreliosis or carditis due to burgdorferi Lyme Disease. This means that out of 100 patients who have Lyme disease, we might misdiagnose 69 of them, leaving their infections untreated.
Recent research out of John’s Hopkins University suggests we likely aren’t using the correct antibiotics. The drugs we are using might be contributing to persistent bacteria and may not be fully clearing infections.
Given the current urgent state of affairs, we should be racing to find better testing strategies that will identify all of the Borrelia species and associated co-infections, and to find better antibiotic regimens that will cure our patients. We need to find these infections early–before life-altering manifestations of cranial nerve palsy, meningitis, myocarditis, arthritis, permanent disability and death.
Nevena Zubcevik D.O.
Resident physician and tick-borne illness advisory board member
Harvard Medical School
Letter Published in The Wall Street Journal
Regarding Dr. Paul Mead’s letter about the CDC Lyme test (Letters, Sept. 5), our family is familiar with tick-borne diseases. Our son was diagnosed with Lyme disease and babesiosis. The CDC test was negative for Lyme disease. The IGeneX, Inc. test clearly showed that he had Lyme. My son’s life has been changed due to the availability of testing choices. Our son is now fine. We benefited from scientists and innovators…