When my son started hitchhiking a tick, I thought I’d double-check the recommended time for Lyme prophylaxis (avoiding getting Lyme) after a tick removal. I had forgotten just how vociferous the Lyme debate is and how hard it is to get a straight answer. Here’s a sampling of what I found:
Did you know that you could get Lyme from a transfusion?
According to the CDC, “Lyme disease bacteria can live in blood that is stored for donation”
How fast does a tick bite give you Lyme? It depends on who you read. Thirty six hours is common, or a few hours, which is exactly as clear as the literature. Read on.
How long should we treat? It depends on who you read. The most recent study shows that most (99%) of those treated get better within ten days, with no benefit to longer treatment. Again, this is a big debate, so here’s the full text of the most recent study. Other M.D.s disagree very strongly.
Why is there so much conflicting evidence, all of it from M.D.s, about Lyme Disease?
There are two warring factions within conventional medicine about Lyme disease. Meet IDSA vs. ILADS.
If you are an M.D. in the IDSA camp, you think Lyme needs a couple of days to transmit from tick to human, that most people get rashes, that a very short round of antibiotics cures people and that if someone has symptoms after their cure, they have PLDS or Post-Lyme Disease Syndrome. You might also refer those patients to a psychiatrist to help with depression or anxiety as a result of their syndrome.
If you are an M.D. with ILADS, you think the tick transmits Lyme to people within hours, that most people don’t get a rash, and that there are lots of co-infections including Babesia, Ehrlichia, and Bartonella. Most people get inadequate treatment and almost half of those infected fail to get better after short-term antibiotics. As a result, you don’t think there is any such thing as a syndrome because it’s just continuing infection.
So are there alternatives for Lyme? Yes, and they are poorly studied because everyone is still arguing about how much antibiotics are necessary.
Where do you stand? Somewhere in the IDSA/ILADS gap. I think IDSA is ignoring too much, while ILADS assumes too much. I’ve written before about the simple fact that the spirochetes may continue in the body without symptoms, which is heresy to both camps.