Make the reporting of Lyme Disease mandatory
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Lyme Borreliosis/ Lyme Disease is on the increase; this is what we hear, see and read in the head lines. That is of course when the media moguls think there is mileage in the story that will sell newsprint, attract viewers and listeners or when it seems topic of the day because someone of note falls victim to it.
But what does it mean to the rest of us who are unfortunate enough to succumb to this disease? An obvious result is that we have an ever growing number stricken down with all kinds of symptoms that cripple and torment us with pain in body and mind.
When we turn to the very profession we entrust with our care; we are often met with hostility, ridicule, contempt and humiliation because our skin does not show an Erythema Migrans or bull's eye rash or our blood tests come back negative. Our Clinical presentations go completely ignored and if we are treated it is usually with antibiotics unsuitable and useless in eradicating the disease before it has chance to take hold or it is already too late for effective treatment.
Lyme Borrelia could well prove to be our nemesis: they are in a class of bacteria that have super qualities; which means they can effectively change the environment in which they live or protect themselves against detection and eradication. As things stand at this moment in time our only proven chance of stopping the advance of Borrelia infection is to diagnose and begin effective treatment before it has chance to take hold.
The Life Cycle of Borrelia has been accepted as 28/30 days; that means in bacterial terms it is slow growing; it also means that effective treatment will be more successful if it is extended to cover that cycle. What is crucial is that treatment is likely to have more success if diagnosis and treatment begins within the 30 day period of contracting the infection.Those fortunate enough to present with the bullseye rash are likely to be treated straight away without need for serology testing; the conservative estimate for the number of people infected who present with the bullseye rash is less than 1-3. The number of people who later show positive serology without bullseye rash is less than 1-4. By the time a positive serology test comes back from the laboratory it may already be too late for effective treatment.
So what is the solution? Its not rocket science; although it appears as though the medical and political powers seem to make the logical solution more complicated than it really is.
The first thing that needs to be done is to take a pro-active approach to diagnosis. Borrelia infection is seasonal from March to October; that is when parasitic hosts carrying the bacteria are active. Flu like symptoms are usually the first indicators of infection; on this presentation a GP has to make an expert decision is it viral or bacterial? if they decide bacterial then they should automatically consider and treat for Lyme Borreliosis. The marvel of this solution is: It comes with no additional costs to the NHS, in fact it will save money that would otherwise be spent on expensive laboratory testing.
The second thing that needs to be done is to make the reporting of suspected Lyme Borreliosis mandatory. The information provided by mandatory reporting is vital for monitoring the extent and progress of the disease and the effectiveness of treatment. The statistical evidence from reporting helps provide forecast for potential burden placed upon the health and social services. The changes needed in Diagnosis and the Mandatory Reporting of Lyme Borreliosis are inseparable and cannot function accurately or viably on their own. That is why it is so important to bring them to fore as the only way to help secure our future in the fight against this disease.
The most important thing of all is it will undoubtedly save countless people from a life of pain, misery and premature death.
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