One would think that a full professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University would be a credible source of validation to the seeming endless numbers of infectious disease specialists, neurologists, rheumatologists, and other tone deaf physicians in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, the upper midwest, and nation who continue to tell patients that “chronic Lyme disease does not exist”. Yet, today he effectively said that it not only exists but that it is imperative to understand its complex nature in order to begin to prescribe appropriate treatment plans. Here he is interviewed at a Vector Disease conference in 2015 in Norway. This should be required reading for the aforementioned Luddites we find in every clinic in the country right now.
The important parts of Dr Zhang’s message this morning included the very principle that infections with Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) and other member species cause an illness that very often persists long after an initial course of the standard 2-3 weeks of antibiotics. This infection can “morph” into variable forms above and beyond the standard spirochete form — intracellular, tuberculosis-like bugs — and even a cystic form that protects itself with so-called “biofilms” that can create a very resistant presence. These embedded forms require very diligent, multiple drug approaches in order to eradicate, and we are just scratching the surface in terms of understanding the best methods of treatment. But most assuredly, it is NOT to refer these fatigued, aching, foggy people to the psychiatrist or Fibromyalgia Clinic.
Zhang: 10-20% of Lyme patients after a 2-4 week treatment (with standard single drug antibiotic therapy) have persistent and recurrent symptoms such as fatigue, pain, joint and muscle aches, and brain fog. Current Lyme antibiotic treatment has poor activity for this “Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome or PTLDS”.
As Dr Zhang reminds us, there IS NO “FDA approved” treatment for this PTLDS but it most definitely exists. To say otherwise is not simply unhelpful, unkind, and dangerous, it is simply medical negligence by any other name.