Diagnosis remains clinical. Laboratory data should not be over-emphasized. Lyme Western Blots from Igenex, MDL and Clongen are helpful. I prefer Clongen. They provide quality pictures of blot strips which quantitatively compare patient reactivity to controls. C4a is a good marker of infection, better than CD57. Other clues include: reversed vitamin D levels, elevated CRP, low/normal B12 and folic acid levels, and low white blood cell counts. Blood wet mounts reliably show motile round bacteria---presumptive Bartonella species. A large percent of patient have the BBB triad: Borrelia, Bartonella, Babesia.
Primary oral therapy with Doxycycline and Tindamax is excellent. Killing cysts early seems to improve outcomes. Tindamax is clearly better than Flagyl and Albendazole. Biaxin is a second choice in patient's who cannot tolerate Doxy. When Biaxin is used patients seem to do better when a beta lactam is added:Amoxicillin/Ceftin/Omnicel. The benefits of Plaquenil are not clear. Rather than having an anti-cyst effect, it promotes cyst formation. Many antibiotics used for Lyme also have mild effects against Bartonella as well. In patients with neurocognitive deficits, Lyme and Bart are generally both a factor. Bartonella/brain Herxes can be extremely severe. Anti-Bart therapy is such patients needs to be gradually ramped up. Drugs with low anti-Bart activity include: Doxy and Biaxin even though these drugs are thought to be only Lyme drugs. Minocycline is a little more active against Bart. Zithromax orally is a poor Lyme drug and has mild anti-Bart effects. Rifampin is somewhat more active against Bart. Bactrim is quite effective and quinolones are very active: Cipro followed by Levaquin and then Factive. Cipro and especially Factive are also good Lyme drugs. Factive is a fabulous Lyme drug.
Many strains of Babesia appear to be very resistant. I suspect like malaria, these bugs have a propensity for developing resistance. When Mepron, Malarone and Artemesin are relatively ineffective, Larium may be surprisingly effective. I generally like to treat Lyme first. The exception is patients with dramatic Babesia symptoms: drenching sweats. As a rule, patients respond quickly once the sweating stops.
I agree with the Martz approach to IV antibiotics: layering. I start with Rocephin, add Zithromax and then Flagyl. Works very well. Other IV antibiotics may be helpful but responses are more variable. Tigacyl has been disappointing in my practice.
Patient should be treated with IV antibiotics for at least 12 weeks, longer if possible. Gains from IV therapy require ongoing therapy with potent oral antibiotics or the gains will vanish. Factive and Tindamax are superb. Factive is costly. Doxy is a good alternative. A subset of patients only do well when beta lactams are continued. Biaxin and Amoxicillin remains an excellent choice of therapy.
Supplements? vitamin D3, 2000-4000IU seems helpful. Probiotics are critical. A good mix of acidophilus type, 30 billion twice daily and Sacchromyces works well. Supplementation with yogurt is better yet. A balanced diet is helpful: fruits, berries, nuts, fish and a wide variety of vegetables of different colors--broccoli to red peppers. Sugar is always bad. I am not yet sold on other supplements. Transfer factor which is basically colostrum may be helpful. If B12 and folic acid are low-- supplement. These patients are probably nutritionally depleted and should also be given B complex and multivitamins.
The body cannot be sterilized of Lyme bacteria. Intracellular bacteria will always persist.
Unfortunately, many patients require maintenance therapy. I have seen many patients who have been "cured" by other physicians, but complain of incomplete recovery or relapse.
Not all Lyme infected patients required treatment. I only test patients who are symptomatic.
No--it is not sexually transmitted or transmitted by mosquitoes or flies. It may be transmitted via placenta to newborns. This can be very problematic. I treat pregnant Lyme patients with low dose Amoxicillin.
There is no one right way to treat Lyme disease. At times you have to be creative--and, never give up. Individual responses to therapy are impossible to predict.
Patients with autoimmune neuropathy may get much worse with therapy. This is one of the most challenging group of patients. IViG should be considered if possible. Sometimes steroids are needed, despite all the caveats. Antibiotic therapy must be titrated very gingerly.
Welchol works very well in some patients--especially with neurocognitive issues. Long term therapy may be required. It also lowers CRP and inflammation.
Straight IV fluids, normal saline solution may be given to patients on IV antibiotics to flush out toxins? or circulating immune complexes. It may reduce Herxes and make patients feel better.
Politics: no change except Connecticut. Patients must understand that doctors who treat Lyme disease face ridicule from their colleagues and possible censure from medical boards.