Prescribing prolonged courses of antibiotics for patients experiencing symptoms attributed to Lyme disease can lead to harmful health outcomes, says a new position paper by Canada’s infectious disease experts.

The statement says Lyme causing Borrelia are reliably killed with recommended doses of antibiotics. However, says Dr. Todd Hatchette, President of AMMI Canada, for patients with persistent symptoms, more antibiotics are not the answer.

“Patients being told they have chronic infection are often given prolonged antibiotics and alternative therapies that have never been shown to work and have, in fact, been harmful.”

Well-designed studies have established that long-term antibiotic treatment is of no more benefit to the patient than a placebo and has caused significant adverse effects in more than one quarter of participants, including: C. difficile, and infections arising from intravenous catheters.

AMMI Canada has released its position paper in an attempt to provide accurate information for patients and health care providers on the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.

“Patients are suffering from very real and sometimes debilitating symptoms,” adds Dr. Hatchette. “Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation about Lyme disease. Patients want and deserve honest answers. As Canada’s experts in infectious diseases, we have an obligation to provide answers.”

Dr. Hatchette acknowledges the need to gather more evidence about the disease.

“AMMI Canada recognizes there are gaps in knowledge about Lyme disease and we support the call for further research to better define one, the cause of these persistent symptoms, and two, effective management strategies,” adds Dr. Hatchette.


Erythema migrans/James Gathany