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Few Connecticut Doctors Treat Chronic Lyme Disease

Most primary care physicians responding to survey are undecided or don't believe condition exists

THURSDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Relatively few Connecticut primary care physicians are diagnosing and treating chronic Lyme disease, compared to a much larger number who are undecided on the existence of the condition or don't believe it exists, according to research published online Sept. 2 in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Michael Johnson, M.D., and Henry M. Feder Jr., M.D., of the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, analyzed data from a survey of 285 primary care physicians in Connecticut. The survey included questions regarding their diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease in the last three years.

The researchers found that six physicians (2.1 percent) diagnosed and treated chronic Lyme disease; these physicians diagnosed an average of 3.1 cases apiece per year, excluding an outlier who diagnosed 40 cases per year. Another 137 (48.1 percent) were undecided on its existence and didn't diagnose or treat it, and 142 (49.8 percent) didn't believe in the existence of chronic Lyme disease.

"The acceptance or rejection of the concept of chronic Lyme disease has polarized Connecticut physicians," the authors write. "No physician commented that he/she used intravenous antibiotics to treat patients with chronic Lyme disease. Thus, the physicians we identified who diagnose chronic Lyme disease and treat patients with it differ from [advocates known as] 'Lyme literate' physicians because the 'Lyme literate' physicians treat hundreds of patients with chronic Lyme disease each year, with months to years of antibiotics given orally or intravenously."

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