CDC Report Focuses on Lyme Disease Treatments

Summer has begun, and people must be more cautious of their surroundings when going outdoors.

Summer has begun, and people must be more cautious of their surroundings when going outdoors. Lyme disease is a common infection in individuals who hike or walk in wooded areas or tall grasses where tick exposure is prevalent. The recommended treatment for Lyme disease is a 2- to 4-week course of antibiotics.

According to the CDC, people who experience fatigue, joint or muscle pain, and neurological disorders are sometimes diagnosed by health practitioners with having chronic Lyme disease. These patients usually lack the bulls-eye rash most individuals with this illness will experience. Chronic Lyme disease is often clinically diagnosed without a blood test and is sometimes treated with antibiotics if the test results are negative. Prolonged antibiotic, immunoglobulin therapy, and IV treatments can create serious infections in patients when over-medicated for extended periods of time. Unnecessary use of these medications provides no benefit and can put patients at risk of adverse events.

The CDC received reports detailing incidents of serious bacterial infections resulting from treatment of individuals diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. These reports illustrated “complications resulting from unproven treatments, including septic shock, Clostridium difficile colitis, osteodiscitis, abscess, and death.”

Pharmacists should be aware that chronic Lyme disease treatments may be linked with other complications. They should also advise patients to be tested by a health care professional if infection is a possibility due to recent tick exposure or neuromuscular pain.

The researchers concluded that systematic investigations, such as clinician surveys, administrative claims databases, and state or local reporting systems for adverse would be useful to understanding the scope and consequences of events related to Lyme disease treatments.


Marzec NS, Nelson C, Waldron PR, et al. Serious bacterial infections acquired during treatment of patients given a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease — United States. 2017. MMWR. Accessed June 21, 2017.

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