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No cases/evidence showing Lyme Disease found at this point

(March 28) -- We as public health officials are always very concerned about any disease outbreak. And this situation in Lehi regarding a concern about Lyme disease is actually quite a common one. Just because we can not confirm or agree with the diagnosis of an illness some members of the public believe they have does not mean we are not concerned and not willing to look into possible explanations for those symptoms. This is why a task force is being organized to address these physical complaints these members of the public have which is being called Lyme disease.

As of now we do not have laboratory data which has confirmed Lyme disease in any of these individuals who have been told by some practitioners and others that they have it. Therefore we are not agreeing there has been any Lyme disease identified yet among these individuals and thus there is not an outbreak of Lyme disease. Apparently the diagnosis of Lyme disease on these individuals has been based on a laboratory test for IgM antibody against Lyme disease. This particular test is very non-specific and therefore has many false positives and cannot be relied on to make the diagnosis even if a tick exposure has been known to have occurred.

We know Lyme disease from an exposure in Utah is rare but are not saying it is impossible. We do at least need laboratory confirmation of IgG antibody levels against Lyme disease before we are able to consider one of these a case of Lyme disease. Several have had this test run and the IgG test is negative for the disease. Some others have not responded back to us and apparently have not agreed yet to have this testing.

It is virtually impossible to diagnose Lyme disease from symptoms alone because the symptoms are very non specific and could be from many different causes. We encourage any individuals who believe after consulting with their primary care physicians they may have Lyme disease to contact Infectious Disease specialists who are Dr. Abolnik or Dr. Osguthorpe in Utah County or Salt Lake County Infectious Disease specialists which include the University of Utah Medical Center specialists. After discussing this situation with Dr. Abolnik, he told me if there is a question regarding laboratory results he has recommended using the ARUP laboratory in Salt Lake City which he uses.

Public Health loses its credibility if we do not hold to good sound scientific evidence upon which to make or accept diagnoses of communicable disease outbreaks or clusters of cancer, etc.

Sincerely,

Dr. Joseph Miner, M.D., M.S.P.H.
Director
Utah County Health Department

Related Links

Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology