Dear Ms. Landers,
I came across
your article on Lyme disease
published in American Medical
News on August 9, 2004...
It is important
that the AMA give members accurate
notable error is the figure given for US Lyme disease cases at about
This figure is based on CDC surveillance cases with criteria so
that perhaps only about 10% of proven Lyme disease cases can meet it.
CDC will tell you that the actual number of cases is in excess of 10
the figure given for the number of cases that meet the surveillance
and reported. That is, well over 200,000 cases of Lyme disease per
The CDC figures
also downplay the incidence of
Lyme disease on the West
Coast and other areas. Primarily because physicians do not consider it
in differential diagnosis since many believe it is either "rare" or
not exist in their area. Relating the vastly understated surveillance
figure to your members reinforces these misperceptions. Also, strain
will make serodiagnostic tests less accurate in areas other than the
seaboard where these tests were developed.
disease is a very serious bacterial
infection. It can and does
cause death from cardiac problems or other causes. It is normally not
as a cause of death, per se. I have had serious cardiac complications
Lyme disease that nearly resulted in death. These occured before my
of Lyme disease. My death certificate would have never mentioned Lyme
The cardiac complications resolved with appropriate treatment for Lyme
Lyme disease is
expensive to diagnose, expensive
to treat, and may be
incurable (but treatable) in its late stages. It is frequently
as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, MS, ALS, Alzheimer's,
problems and other conditions. Coinfections with other tickborne
are not uncommon and should be addressed in Lyme disease cases.
should be alerted to this.
There are a
number of expert sources of Lyme
disease information available
on the Internet. The CDC information tends to be incomplete and not up
to date. The NIH has some worthwhile information. One site with a
There are also
some excellent informative
brochures issued by Pfizer,
the Lyme Disease Foundation, and the State of California.
will entertain the idea of writing
another article on Lyme
disease for AMA members.