Article outrage: Lyme disease easily treated?

An article published in the New York Times entitled “My Son Got Lyme Disease. He’s Totally Fine. Horror stories about lingering Lyme disease proliferate, but the illness is easily treated,” has ignited outrage among Lyme disease patients and their families.

The New York Times article, written by Apoorva Mandavilli, the mother of a 9-year-old boy who developed Lyme disease, portrays it as a relatively insignificant disease. It is, as she states, “An easily treated infection with no long-term consequences for children, or even the vast majority of adults.”

However, she goes on to cite several stories which depict the devastation the disease can actually cause:

  • “A parent at the school bus stop told me about a family friend in her 20’s who has never recovered from her infection.”
  • “A co-worker at the neighborhood co-op told me that his father-in-law has had seizures ever since his diagnosis.”
  • “Even a fellow science journalist told me she knows some people never recover.”

Doctors on the “frontline” who treat Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses on a daily basis and manage complex cases have seen many of these chronically ill patients. Other doctors do not treat these difficult cases and may, therefore, dismiss the seriousness of the disease.

“It’s baloney that you can’t cure Lyme disease, it’s eminently curable,” states Dr. Eugene Shapiro, professor of pediatrics and of epidemiology at Yale.

Mandavilli cites Dr. Shapiro as saying “most people who report chronic problems were most likely wrongly diagnosed with Lyme disease when they had something else to begin with.”

Watch Video: Dr. Eugene Shapiro on Lyme disease in children.

“Some people who have unexplained pain or fatigue may latch on to Lyme disease,” Shapiro says, “as a possible explanation after getting an inaccurate diagnosis from a doctor who misinterprets the test.”

But as so many patients have discovered, Lyme disease is not a simple illness. It is as complex as the bacterial spirochete that causes it. And getting an accurate and timely diagnosis is challenging, as even Mandavilli discovered.

Her child had complained about an ache in his legs, which she attributed to growing pains, his gait or regular squash lessons. Neither she nor the boy’s doctor suspected Lyme disease.

“We saw a couple of doctors, who ordered various X-rays and scans. When an M.R.I. showed inflammation in Akash’s knee and ankle, the orthopedist we saw called to say it could be juvenile arthritis or any of a long list of autoimmune or inflammatory disorders,” states Mandavilli.

The parents, fortunately, stumbled upon the diagnosis of Lyme disease after a family friend suggested it. Lyme disease tests confirmed the diagnosis, and the child was treated successfully.

It is important for physicians to recognize that, in some people, Lyme disease can cause long-term, chronic symptoms. And it is imperative that it be included in their differential diagnosis.

4 Replies to "Article outrage: Lyme disease easily treated?"

  • Viki Lynn Snow
    07/14/2019 (3:25 am)

    It’s a disservice to humanity to lead them astray especially since the medical establishment have taken oaths to “do no harm!!!” This disease is life time sentence for most of us who can’t function because we don’t have the energy.. Something drastic has to change in this country , otherwise our demise is imminent. Our governments do not care about us! We need to be the change in the world!

  • Yessi
    07/08/2019 (9:38 pm)

    It’s hard to trust the medical community. With such a divide, to me, it is clear that the whole picture is incomplete. I think there are other autoimmune, hormone, viral, genetic, etc, variables that will affect a patients recovery process, but it’s too bad that this doctor had to make his statements so polarizing.

  • Ginny Passetto
    07/02/2019 (1:20 pm)

    This disease is NOT easily curable for many people and it’s a huge insult to those who have long-suffered from it. The medical community has added to the frustration as well with the “you know, there is a controversy re chronic Lyme…no such thing…”. I have never heard a cancer patient being told that and long lasting Lyme, chronic Lyme, can be just as bad. Just ask those who have suffered for years and years or family members who have, and continue to see these debilitating and painful effects daily of loved family members and/or friends. My daughter suffers from Lyme and Babesia and this has been ongoing since 2005-2006. Despite the fact that Igenex tests STILL show an active infection of Lyme, some doctors still deny that she just could not have it for this long. Thank God for the few doctors who do believe her and are willing to work with her.

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