LDA Position on IDSA 2006 Lyme Disease Guidelines

The new IDSA guidelines published in October by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) are already causing patients to be denied treatment for chronic Lyme disease. The guidelines have recommended against any long term treatments, listing numerous specific antibiotic classes not to be given, listing alternative treatments and even supplements not to be offered to Lyme patients. Clinical discretion has been removed from treating physicians. We ask that you, your families, and friends across the country sign this petition immediately. Lyme treatment is at stake.


We, the undersigned, are gravely concerned by the new Infectious Disease Society’s (IDSA) guidelines on Lyme disease. These guidelines call for absolute reliance upon either the presentation of an Erythema migrans rash or positive serologic blood tests to diagnose Lyme disease and recommend severely limited courses of antibiotic treatment when either a rash or a positive test are present. They take the place of a longstanding policy of deference to the clinical discretion of the treating physician in both diagnosing and treating the disease. We find it most troubling that the new IDSA guidelines fail to explain the scientific justifications for their absolute reliance upon the rash and current blood testing to diagnose the disease in light of the numerous studies and medical opinions concluding that the rash is either not discovered by or present in many infected persons and that the serologic testing methods recommended by the IDSA are inherently unreliable because they do not even remotely approach a dispositive level of accuracy. Widespread adoption of these guidelines by practitioners, insurers, and government entities will, therefore, cause real and egregious harm to many patients by inhibiting physicians who otherwise would be free to clinically diagnose and treat this disease.

These guidelines fail to meaningfully address the needs of patients with chronic Lyme disease, who are now relegated to the pile of diseases with unknown etiology, like CFS and FMS, and who are provided with only symptomatic relief, while the underlying infectious disease is allow to progress unabated. Studies have shown that patients with chronic Lyme disease suffer a degree of debility equal to that of patients with congestive heart failure. Failure to address the underlying infectious disease etiology keeps these patients sick, which is inhumane and immoral. There are no chronic Lyme disease patient studies supporting symptomatic therapies, which presumably would be necessary for life at considerable cost to insurers and society. Moreover, the IDSA rejected out-of-hand the requests by patients and their treating physicians to participate in the guideline development process. No medical society should be able to dictate patient healthcare through exclusionary guidelines that ignore considerable scientific evidence and fail to meet the basic goal of medicine-to improve the quality of life of the patient.

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