Taking Charge of Your Health

One of the consumer questions that has come
in “Is IV antibiotic therapy essential for treating Lyme? Does everyone have to go through it?” The short answer is No! Not everyone has to do that. IV antibiotic therapy may be a first-line
therapy. IV Rocephin, or something like it, with the
first diagnosis. That will happen in an infectious disease
setting. Some practitioners will use IV antibiotics
as a primary or later in treatment as well. But, it is not necessary for everybody to
do IV antibiotics; there is a place for it, but not everyone has to do that to get better. Another question that has come in: “If I
have developed arthritis, should I be testing for Lyme?” It depends, if you develop arthritis and if
your other symptoms align with that and there is possible exposure (to Lyme) than it is
reasonable to test for Lyme. And actually many arthritis have an infectious
component even if they’re not Lyme related, which is another important thing to know as
well. “Does Lyme bite always develop a bullseye
rash?” It does Not! And actually a large percentage of people
that develop Lyme do not even know that they had a tick bite, have no rash, and they find
out only through symptoms later on. I’ve worked with many people who know the
exact weekend that they got sick, that it started exactly then, but no tick bite, no
rash, it was probably a nymph or something very small, or they just couldn’t find the
tick, but it happened. This next question is related to pets; “I
have pets, can they get Lyme Disease?” Yes, pets can get Lyme disease and do frequently. Dogs will get it often and other pets as well. Many vets know to look for this with sudden
onset arthritis symptoms in animals, and it can be tested for. Is there any vaccine for Lyme Disease? There was a vaccine for Lyme disease, but
it went off the market years ago for a variety of reasons. I believe they are working on a new one, but
right now there is no vaccine currently being utilized for Lyme. So one of the things that happen with Lyme
disease is that people develop co-infections- What should people be looking for? Co-Infections can happen at the same time
as the Lyme infection. They can be carried by the tick, and one can
get multiple infections simultaneously. Often, these co-infections are treated with
Doxycycline (a common antibiotic) or other therapies so they will be treated at the same
time as the Lyme disease, and sometimes not. When they become chronic, or not treated appropriately,
then they have a related, but a different set of symptoms to the Lyme and can actually
be more debilitating than the Lyme disease itself. Common co-infections like Microplasmas, Chlamydia,
Pneumonia, Babesia, Bartonella, which can be from cats, as well as from ticks, and rickettsia. Common infections which manifest differently
in “co-infection” and “chronic” form than they might acutely and can be associated
with chronic Lyme. Treatments are often different; when there
is an issue, there may be different therapies or different antibiotics used. Identifying the co-infections is important. A good test for Lyme will include co-infection
testing at the same time to understand. Once one has a simple Lyme test that they
are positive for, they might consider being tested for co-infections to understand what
is present. Is that standard practice to test for co-infections
at the same time when someone is being tested for Lyme? Not in the primary care setting. That’s excellent advice. So if you have tested positive for Lyme, it
is essential to check for co-infections. Yes! Does it matter how long you’ve been exposed
to Lyme to test for co-infections, or would you recommend that even if it is an acute
exposure? I would recommend it either if it is an acute
exposure and it’s easy to get the co-infection testing or if the person has failed the first
month or so of antibiotics…in that case, you should be looking deeper for more things,
and that is certainly a good time to do that. It’s questionable if it is necessary to
do it in the first screening until the first round of antibiotics is ineffective. So when you say, the first round of antibiotics
is not effective, what you mean by that is that the symptoms are continuing to persist
in that person? That’s right. Either, they felt better, but then symptoms
came back after they finished the first round; or, they felt a little better and then symptoms
got worse after they discontinued the antibiotics, or, they tested positive, and the antibiotics
were not effective at all. Any of those three cases. And Lyme disease can recur if treatment is
not fully effective. So people can get better and then the same
symptoms can later come back. How often do you see relapse with Lyme disease? I think that it definitely happens. Well-treated Lyme disease will not relapse
like that, but that is something I look for in the middle of treatment. If we think we are done, and then it comes
back, that is certainly a possibility. Is there a window in which Lyme comes back
(after treatment) or can it happen anytime? Usually, it will come back within a couple
of months. Can people with Lyme disease and co-infections
Infect Others? Yes. Any of these can be infective. Lyme disease itself can be infected from mother
to child, that can happen; Vertical Transmission. There is some concern that it can be sexually
transmitted as well. Though it is not easily sexually transmitted
there is some thought that can happen as well. It can be in the blood, and like any infection
can be transmitted by blood and other bodily fluids. We don’t worry about it as an intensely
infective-illness, but it can run in families where many people, generations, can have it. When people donate blood, is the blood tested
for infections and Lyme disease? Yes absolutely. Donated blood is tested for all kinds of infections. Thank you for your time today Dr. Litchy;
any parting words for our consumers? Lyme disease is Treatable! Even Chronic Lyme disease can be treated! And so, one should not give up hope if you
are dealing with Chronic Lyme. There can be things that can help you improve
and if you think you have Chronic Lyme, get it treated right away!

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