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How Does Government Acknowledgement of Lyme Affect Patient Care?


Patricia Smith, President of the Lyme Disease Association, Inc, shares her thoughts on how government acknowledgement of Lyme disease affects patient care.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability):
“Awareness of Lyme disease in the United States, or lack of awareness from government agencies, has greatly influenced what happens in other countries. This is problematic because other countries, for a long time, have not wanted to acknowledge Lyme disease. In fact, some [countries] still don’t (for example, Australia), but the evidence is showing that indeed, it is there. A lot of the European countries have had a huge amount of Lyme disease.

A lot of [countries] have a different healthcare system than we have here [in the United States], and oftentimes, patients have not been able to get treatment approved [through] their health system. [This is] because the countries will say, ‘We don’t have Lyme disease here.’ Unfortunately, what has happened is, oftentimes, [officials in these countries] have listened to what is coming out of the United States, [where] early on, they would say that Lyme disease is a disease that is hard to catch and easy to cure. That has not turned out to be the case. Quite the opposite has turned out to be the case. [In these countries] they thought that people were [being] hysterical. Back in the 1990s there was talk of people having a mass delusion. That has really hurt people around the globe who have tried to get their disease recognized. What’s happened now, though, [is that] there are so many more cases, that countries such as France, and others, have had to acknowledge that, indeed, they do have Lyme disease and that maybe, they need to allow their patients to get reimbursement for treatments for Lyme.”
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