Patients to Protest Lyme Disease Guidelines at Westchester Medical Center

For Immediate Release
November 30, 2006
Contact: Vicky Jaffe, MS&L
(617) 937-2578
[email protected]

Patients to Protest Lyme Disease Guidelines at Westchester Medical Center

Hundreds of patients from throughout the country will rally outside Westchester Medical Center/NY Medical College in Valhalla, NY, from 12pm to 3pm today, to protest the latest Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) guidelines for Lyme disease. Organizers chose the venue because it is the workplace of three of the IDSA committee members, including guideline chair Dr. Gary Wormser.

Featured speakers include New York officials─ U.S. Representative Nita Lowey (NY-18), Assemblyman Joel Miller, and Jim Martorano, Deputy Supervisor of Yorktown Heights. Dr. Joseph Burrascano, world renowned East Hampton, NY Lyme expert who is vice president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), and Pat Smith, president of the national Lyme Disease Association (LDA), will also speak

“It is time to nationally address this travesty masquerading as the best science has to offer,” said Pat Smith. “The range of ticks is increasing, reported Lyme disease case numbers are on the rise, and it is evident that quite a number of patients develop chronic disease after failing a short course of treatment or after having a delayed diagnosis and treatment. We know testing is highly unreliable, missing up to 50% of the cases, and the bull’s eye occurs in maybe half the patients. Yet we have guidelines recommending that doctors be deprived of their clinical discretion in diagnosing and treating patients and that they diagnose only with a bull’s eye or a positive test. The final outrage is the guidelines not recommending any treatment for chronic Lyme disease, leaving patients suffering a disability equal to that of congestive heart failure.”

Earlier this month, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal launched an investigation into whether the IDSA violated antitrust laws in setting the new guidelines for treating Lyme disease. 

Lyme, the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, is caused by the bite of a bacteria-infected tick. Lyme disease has been reported in 49 states. In 2005, more than 23,300 Lyme cases were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimates a 10% reporting rate, meaning about 233,000 Americans contracted Lyme in 2005. With global warming, ticks continue to be active over the winter, and experts predict 2006 may surpass 2005 for reported Lyme cases. Symptoms of Lyme vary for each individual patient, but may include fever, chills, headache, backaches, fatigue, and a rash. More information at