New E-book Chronicles Chronic Lyme Disease 'Epidemic'

Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne illness in North America and Europe, is the focus of a new e-book by Dr. Daniel Cameron, a board-certified primary care physician in Mount Kisco, N.Y., who contends the disease can be, and often is, chronic.

The e-book, titled “Proof That Chronic Lyme Disease Exists,” includes sourced information and research from Cameron’s practice. He says the goal of the work is to inform the public and medical community of the implications of the disease when left undiagnosed and untreated. The study covers diagnosis, current limitations of and costs for treatment, the severity of symptoms, and mixed long-term outcome for children with the disease.

The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary widely because the disease can affect various parts of the body, and not everyone presents the same way. In general, though, Lyme disease can cause rashes, flu-like symptoms, migratory joint pain, neurological problems, and, less commonly, an irregular heartbeat and even eye inflammation. These symptoms are brought on by the bites of deer ticks, but, according to the Mayo Clinic, only a minority of such bites actually leads to the disease. The longer a tick remains attached to one’s skin, though, the greater one’s risk is of getting the disease.

”You may never see the tick bite or develop a rash,” Cameron writes. “You may instead present with a range of unrelated symptoms including fatigue, poor concentration, memory problems, irritability, crying, headaches, joint pain, numbness, tingling, etc. . . . The symptoms may resolve for weeks or for months only to return as chronic Lyme disease. It may be difficult for an individual to recognize the symptoms due to the slow, insidious onset of symptoms. Often a spouse, parent or friend may recognize the symptoms before you do.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, if a person is treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of the disease, he or she is likely to recover completely. In later stages, response to treatment may be slower, but the majority of people with Lyme disease recover completely with appropriate treatment.

In making his case for the chronic nature of the disease, Cameron notes that the Lyme disease diagnosis can be difficult to make. “Physicians have been reported to label the illness as stress, getting old, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and multiple sclerosis leading to a delay in the diagnosis and treatment,” he writes. “I have witnessed the ravages of Lyme on countless occasions. I see patients who have been sick with Lyme disease for more than two years without a positive test. I also have patients who have been sick for more than six months because they were not aware that fatigue, poor memory, irritability and poor sleep could be symptoms of neurologic Lyme disease. I have treated teenagers who were too sick to attend school leaving them with home tutoring as the only way to complete their education.”

Cameron contends that Lyme disease recurrence is commonplace and “often a source of worry,” primarily due to a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of the disease early on. He says it is possible to have a recurrence of symptoms months to years after the initial diagnosis and treatment, which usually varies from a month of oral antibiotics to months of oral and even intravenous antibiotics.

In the e-book, Cameron cites a study of Lyme disease patients in which 60 percent conformed to CDC epidemiological criteria, presenting with a rash, Bell’s palsy, or arthritis, yet there was still a diagnostic delay. Patients in this case series were significantly more likely to fail their initial antibiotic treatment since they had delayed treatment, he notes.

Cameron also addresses the risk to society of emerging antibiotic-resistant organisms, weighing that risk “against the societal risks associated with failing to treat an emerging population saddled with Chronic Lyme Disease.” He says that once the medical community acknowledges and accepts the evidence that chronic Lyme disease exists, the focus can turn toward “developing solutions for this debilitating disease.”

In addition to writing the e-book and conducting his medical practice, affiliated with Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, Cameron heads LymeProject, a website devoted to Lyme disease practice and research and “dedicated to the elimination of the chronic Lyme disease epidemic.” The site features a Lyme disease surveillance database and “Lyme Disease Retreatment Study” to focus on the recurrent nature of the disease. For more information on the site and the e-book, visit www.lymeproject.com.

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