Most Vermonters who are accurately diagnosed and treated appropriately for Lyme disease recover quickly. Unfortunately, some Vermonters treated for Lyme and tick-borne diseases have not had full recoveries. Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, and inadequate treatment can result in disseminated Lyme disease that can have a significant and potentially long-term impact on a person’s daily functioning, cognitive abilities, mood, and overall health. In addition, other tick-borne diseases are present in Vermont that can affect the health of Vermonters – even if they do not have Lyme disease.
There is controversy about the proper treatment for Lyme disease. As of October, 2018, the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) does not have current guidelines for the treatment of Lyme disease. (Their new guidelines are expected to be published by the end of 2018, and you can watch a video message from the IDSA about this topic here). Currently, the only U.S. guidelines in compliance with National Guidelines Clearinghouse standards are the peer-reviewed guidelines established in 2015 by the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS).
There is significant disagreement in the medical community about which guidelines provide the correct approach for Lyme disease treatment. The ILADS treatment guidelines are not endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the Vermont Department of Health. This controversy leaves Vermont patients and physicians to navigate conflicting recommendations.
It can be challenging to find effective treatment in Vermont for complex Lyme and tick-borne diseases. Some physicians believe Lyme disease is always cured by a short dose of antibiotics. Others are wary of the controversies around Lyme disease treatment. Some Vermonters have difficulty finding a medical professional knowledgeable about the variety of tick-borne illnesses present in Vermont, trained to treat disseminated Lyme disease, or skilled in addressing post-treatment illness. Not all Vermonters are receiving a timely or accurate diagnosis.
There is a reasonable concern among many scientists and physicians about the use of long-term antibiotic treatment and the problem of antibiotic resistance. Some health-care providers may decide long-term antibiotics are necessary for certain patients. For others, complementary or alternative treatments have worked as well as (or better than) antibiotics. Discuss different treatment options with your health-care professional.