3 benefits of telemedicine for Lyme disease

Patient on telemedicine visit during COVID pandemic.

It can be difficult finding a doctor to recognize and treat Lyme disease. Now with telemedicine, you may be able to consult with a Lyme doctor, who specializes in tick-borne diseases. In a recent study, Trevisan and colleagues describe 3 benefits that telemedicine has had on treating Lyme disease patients.

The study, entitled “The Impact of Telemedicine in the Diagnosis of Erythema Migrans during the COVID Pandemic: A Comparison with In-Person Diagnosis in the Pre-COVID Era,” compares clinical data of 439 patients with an erythema migrans (EM) rash before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.¹ Participants in the study were being treated at an Italian Dermatology Clinic.

Most individuals with an EM rash were diagnosed using an in-person evaluation before the pandemic and with telemedicine after the onset of the pandemic.

Earlier Lyme disease treatment

The number of individuals with an EM rash who were treated within 2 months improved from 35% before the pandemic to 85% after the pandemic.

Access to Lyme disease care

The clinic was able to provide a consultation for patients living far from the consultation center in areas considered non-endemic for Lyme disease.

“While during the COVID pandemic a significantly higher rate of patients who resided far from the consultation center were able to receive a virtual consultation and be included in the study thanks to telemedicine.”

“Our data clearly show that the use of telemedicine for EM diagnosis is helpful as it allows shorter delays in antibiotic therapy and consequently fewer neurological and articular complications.”

The clinic was able to provide long distance advise to children with skin lesions. “Our results are in line with other authors highlighting that during COVID lockdown telemedicine proved to be an effective way to provide long distance advice regarding skin lesions in children.”

Three pregnant woman received prompt treatment during the pandemic. “They were treated with amoxicillin within 1-2 months from the EM onset … the treatment prevented any complication to the babies who were born healthy.”

Lower rate of neurologic symptoms

The rate of individuals with neurologic symptoms, except for headaches, was less in individuals treated after the onset of the pandemic. The authors postulated that earlier Lyme disease treatment and access to Lyme disease care may have reduced the rate of neurologic events.

The number of these patients was significantly higher in the “in-person consultation group,” maybe as a consequence of the diagnosis and treatment delay.”

Conclusion

“Our data clearly show that the use of telemedicine for EM diagnosis is helpful as it allows shorter delays in antibiotic therapy and consequently fewer neurological and articular complications.”

“Therefore, telemedicine could be a tool that could be adopted in the diagnosis of Lyme disease both by Lyme diseases specialized centers but also by general practitioners.”

Editor’s note: The higher risk of neurologic symptoms in individuals with an EM rash before the pandemic using in-person consultation may have been due to differences in patient evaluation and documentation.

References:
  1. Trevisan G, Nan K, di Meo N, Bonin S. The Impact of Telemedicine in the Diagnosis of Erythema Migrans during the COVID Pandemic: A Comparison with In-Person Diagnosis in the Pre-COVID Era. Pathogens. Sep 29 2022;11(10)doi:10.3390/pathogens11101122


2 Replies to "3 benefits of telemedicine for Lyme disease"

  • Mario Palombo
    11/30/2022 (4:44 pm)
    Reply

    I live in Los Angeles California. I would appreciate a recommendation for a local doctor for a second opinion. I have been diagnosed with Lyme disease with testing being performed at Vibrant Labs. Thank you.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      12/02/2022 (11:54 am)
      Reply

      I advise my patients to check with their doctor or contact LymeDisease.org for names.


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