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Canadian experts say long-term antibiotic treatment for 'harmful' borreliosis staff

Published Sunday, 17 March 2019 12:18 EDT

Last updated Sunday, 17 March 2019 12:21 EDT

An extended course of antibiotic treatment in Lyme disease is not more beneficial to the patient than placebo, and may even have "harmful" effects on health, Canadian experts on infectious diseases have found.

An article published by the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada says that prolonged antibiotic treatment – in addition to the standard short course of antibiotics – can cause adverse health effects, including allergic reactions, C. difficile infection and other infections from intravenous catheters.

"Patients suffer from very real and sometimes debilitating symptoms," he said. Dr Todd Hatchette, president of AMMI Canada, in a press release. "Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation about Lyme disease."

The AMMI document acknowledges that more evidence needs to be gathered to determine what causes the disease symptoms to persist so that they can be treated "in a compassionate and versatile way".

The document can ignite such a crazy debate in the medical community, how to best diagnose and treat Lyme disease. It appears at a time when cases of disease reach record values.

When black ticks or deer infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bite people, they can carry the disease. Symptoms – fever, headache, muscle aches and rashes – are nonspecific and often mimic other diseases, making diagnosis difficult. Untreated infection can cause more serious health problems, such as arthritis and encephalomyelitis.

Some doctors, including those at AMMI, say that current tests for diagnosing a disease are often effective, especially in the later stages of the disease, and that the short duration of antibiotics is all that is needed to treat it. But others prefer prescribing long-term antibiotic therapies and are afraid that testing requires a thorough change.

From 2009 to 2017. The number of cases of Lyme disease in Canada increased by 13%, according to the data of the Canadian Public Health Agency. The vast majority of reported cases came from Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

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