If there were no patients like Barbara MacLeod, no one would care about Lyme disease, and WBUR would not currently be running a week-long series about it. It would just be a summer fever and rash. The trouble is that among the many people infected with Lyme disease, some — like former NECN anchor Barbara MacLeod — remain long undiagnosed and they can get very sick, for a very long time.
No one denies that Lyme disease can have long-term effects. The controversy arises around whether the Lyme infection can persist after antibiotic treatment, and whether longer-term antibiotics help. This is the nub of what some call the Lyme Wars, pitting some patients and a contingent of doctors against mainstream medical findings and guidelines. And today, we got a taste of the wars on WBUR’s air, with Barbara MacLeod’s harrowing story on Morning Edition and then, on All Things Considered, the beginnings of a response from Dr. Mark Drapkin, an infectious disease specialist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and a professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine. On Friday, we’ll hear him explain why he believes Lyme is not a chronic disease, but why people can have lingering effects from the infection.
The Lyme wars tend to get nasty. Barbara MacLeod was brave to tell her story, and Dr. Mark Drapkin is courageous to represent the mainstream infectious disease specialist’s point of view. I can’t wait to hear his fuller interview on Friday.