A frequent criticism leveled against the use of long term antibiotics for Lyme disease is that it contributes to the rise of super-bugs. Is this true?
LLMDS treating chronic Lyme disease typically use older generation antibiotics such as Amoxicillin or Minocycline. The dreaded MRSA- Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus is resistant to Methicillin. Methicillin is an advanced generation penicillin. It inactivates penicillinase, an enzyme elaborated by evolved, resistant strains of Staph. All Staph aureus have been resistant to Amoxicillin for decades! The use of first generation antibiotics play no role in the development of sophisticated- antibiotic resistant bacteria. This argument holds no water. This overstated theory is not supported by decades of clinical practice or published scientific research. Super-bugs grow in an environment oozing with the latest- "super-antibiotics." Where does this occur?
It has been long established that super-bugs have emerged from the hospital environment. Hospitals have been on the cutting edge of using the latest and greatest antibiotics. In general, the newest, hi-tech antibiotics have been prescribed by infectious disease specialists, who have brandished these new drugs like a kid showing off a new shiny toy. To be fair, in recent years, ID specialists have become increasingly aware of this problem and made efforts to reign in the use of such super-antibiotics. MRSA emerged in hospitals and then spread to nursing homes and long term care facilities. It is only after its genesis in these venues that MRSA egressed into the general population. It has long been known that "nosocomial" infections- hospital acquired infections, are different and much more dangerous and antibiotic resistant than infections acquired in the "community."
Are hospitals the main problem then? No.
70% of antibiotics used in the US are used in agriculture. Farmers have access to latest hi-tech antibiotics and use them with impunity, without any oversight by the IDSA of physicians who are rightfully concerned with the advent of highly resistant germs. For the most part this information has remained outside the purview of public awareness and kept on the back pages of print media. The inappropriate use of antibiotics in agriculture is the invisible 800 pound gorilla sitting in the room when it comes to the issue of emerging super-bugs.
When you get down to brass tacks, the use of long term antibiotics in Lyme patients is criticized because the critics believe that a non-existent disease is being treated. If the disease does not exist off course no drugs, let alone antibiotics should be prescribed.
The problem is that Lyme disease is real. It is a multi-system, frequently life threatening disease. Do Lyme drugs cause Superbugs? NO. It is phony issue.
If the IDSA has issue with the existence of chronic Lyme, then lets have a debate about the real issue and the real science.