Tag: erythema migrans rash

What is a Lyme-Literate Doctor?

By most definitions, a person who is literate is well educated.

So a “Lyme literate” doctor is good thing, right?

What is a Lyme-Literate Doctor?

That you can get Lyme disease after a tick bite is well known by most folks, even if they don’t live in an area with a lot of confirmed cases.

The majority of Lyme disease cases, about 95% of confirmed cases, are reported in just 14 states.
The majority of Lyme disease cases, about 95% of confirmed cases, are reported in just 14 states.

Early symptoms are also well-known, including flu-like symptoms ( fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches), swollen lymph nodes, and the classic erythma migrans rash.

Later symptoms of Lyme disease, when it isn’t treated right away, can include more rashes, arthritis, heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat, facial palsy, severe headaches and neck stiffness, nerve pain, and problems with short-term memory.

Fortunately, that there are many antibiotic regimens that can effectively treat Lyme disease, including amoxicillin, isn’t a huge secret.

So do you need to see a “Lyme literate” doctor to get diagnosed and treated if you think you have Lyme disease?

That’s actually the last thing you want to do.

The first thing you want to understand is that the term “Lyme literate” doctors is actually kind of ironic. These are not literate doctors, at least not in the sense that they are educated and practice evidence based medicine.

Quest Diagnostics says that they have detected Lyme in all 50 states, even Arizona and Colorado, even though they are among the 8 states that don't have any of the Ixodes ticks that transmit Lyme... Are those really the states "where people are being infected?"
Quest Diagnostics says that they have detected Lyme in all 50 states, even Arizona and Colorado, even though they are among the eight states that don’t have any of the Ixodes ticks that transmit Lyme… Are those really the states “where people are being infected?”

They are often alternative medicine providers who think that you can get Lyme disease anywhere, even if you don’t live in and haven’t traveled to an area with ticks capable of transmitting Lyme disease.

Many also diagnose folks with many different kinds of non-specific symptoms as having Lyme disease, especially because they misuse tests for Lyme disease as screening tests, or simply misinterpret the results. Tests that often lead to false positive results and folks getting misdiagnosed with chronic Lyme disease.

“Once serum antibodies to B. burgdorferi do develop, both IgG and IgM may persist for many years despite adequate treatment and clinical cure of the illness”

Murray et al. on Lyme Disease

They also often think that it is likely that if you have Lyme disease, then you are also likely to have many coinfections, including Bartonella or Mycoplasma. And that the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria can hide in our bodies, creating persistent infections, even passing through breastmilk or causing congenital Lyme disease.

“You can access a variety of online resources and directories to locate doctors who are specifically trained in identifying and treating tick-borne illnesses. This is particularly important if you suspect that you may have Lyme disease since it is the most frequently misdiagnosed of all tick-borne diseases. Finding a Lyme-literate medical doctor (LLMD)—or a physician who is familiar with the vast range of symptoms that may indicate infection at various stages of the disease, as well as potential coinfections and other complexities—can help ensure that you get the right treatment, right away.”

IGeneX Inc. on How to Find Doctors Who Can Help with Your Tick-Borne Disease

Why does IGeneX Inc. want to help you find a Lyme-literate doctor? Maybe because IGeneX Inc. sells the tests that many Lyme-literate doctors use to diagnose Lyme disease and chronic Lyme disease! Tests that most other doctors don’t recommend doing.

“The controversy is a nice model for many similar controversies: the science doesn’t support the existence of the disease, but a dedicated group of activists, including some scientists and physicians, feel their extensive experiences more than make up for lack of data. What some of us have problems with is not only the lack of data, but also the willingness of people who believe in this to go about trying to prove it in unconventional ways, for example, relying on lab tests that are not validated.”

Lyme disease—who is credible?

Still, not everyone knows about Lyme disease.

And if you don’t mention a history of a tick bite, didn’t notice a tick bite (Lyme ticks are very small), or don’t have the classic erythema migrans rash, then diagnosis might be delayed.

Tips from Lyme Disease Country

So what should you know to be literate about Lyme disease and be prepared if a tick ever bites your child?

  • you can prevent Lyme disease by avoiding tick bites and removing ticks as quickly as possible after they bite you, which is why it is important to do use insect repellent and do regular tick checks after spending time outdoors, especially if you were in wooded, overgrown areas or places with tall grass or unmarked trails.
  • just because you were bitten by a blacklegged tick, it doesn’t mean that you will develop Lyme disease. In general, only 2% of tick bites result in Lyme disease.
  • in most cases, ticks don’t need to be tested for Lyme disease, after all, even if the tick tested positive, it doesn’t mean that it transmitted the Lyme bacteria during a bite.
  • Lyme disease isn’t the only tick-borne disease that we are concerned about, so do tick checks even if you aren’t in a Lyme endemic area.
  • except in very specific cases in high risk areas, people shouldn’t usually be treated with antibiotics after a tick bite, just in case they might develop symptoms of Lyme disease
  • according to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, eight states, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, don’t have the Ixodes ticks that transmit Lyme disease

And know that in addition to your pediatrician, a pediatric rheumatologist or pediatric infectious disease specialist can help you if you think your child has Lyme disease. Unfortunately, late symptoms of untreated Lyme disease can be serious. That makes early diagnosis and the return of a Lyme disease vaccine important.

What about Lyme-literate doctors who say that they specialize in caring for patients with Lyme disease? Understand that the term “Lyme-literate” is simply a dog whistle for alternative medicine providers and websites who are likely to offer non-evidence based care.

More on Lyme Disease and Lyme-Literate Doctors