CDC: Treatments for Chronic Lyme Disease Unproven, Potentially Harmful — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
June 16, 2017

CDC: Treatments for Chronic Lyme Disease Unproven, Potentially Harmful

By Cara Adler

Edited by William E. Chavey, MD, MS

Use of unproven treatments for patients given a diagnosis of "chronic Lyme disease" can cause serious adverse events, including death, according to an MMWR report.

The authors selected five cases, among those periodically reported to the CDC, to illustrate the range of complications. The five patients were treated with long courses of IV antibiotics or immunoglobulins. Adverse events included osteomyelitis, paraspinal abscess, Clostridium difficile colitis, and serious bacterial infection and septic shock. One patient died from septic shock attributed to catheter-associated bacteremia.

Chronic Lyme disease is a nonspecific diagnosis used by some practitioners for patients with various symptoms such as fatigue, generalized pain, and neurologic disorders. Treatments for it are unproven and not recommended.

The authors conclude, "Clinicians, public health practitioners, and patients should be aware that treatments for chronic Lyme disease lack proof of effectiveness and can result in serious complications."

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