Dr. Henry Feder of the University of Connecticut Health Center says the disease -- caused by ticks infected with the bacteria B. Burgdorferi and named for the Connecticut community where it was first diagnosed -- need not be treated with prolonged or intravenous use of antibiotics.
Feder and Dr. Michael Johnson, now at the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, Conn., conducted a survey and found of the 285 primary care physicians responding to the survey, nearly one-half did not believe chronic Lyme disease is a legitimate diagnosis, while 48 percent were undecided. Only six physicians, 2.1 percent, diagnosed and treated patients for chronic Lyme disease.
The study, scheduled to be published in The Journal of Pediatrics, says the six physicians used an average antibiotic treatment that lasted 20 weeks and it did not appear to be intravenous, the researchers say.
Feder says some in healthcare, who call themselves "Lyme literate," insist chronic Lyme disease is frequently diagnosed and this network has advocated for legislation in states requiring insurance companies to cover the costs of intravenous therapy for presumed chronic Lyme disease.
"Physicians who diagnose patients with chronic Lyme disease, and put these patients in harm's way with months to years of potentially dangerous antibiotics, are outliers -- (in statistics, an outlier is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data)," Feder says in a statement.