S1 E6: Talking research, testing, and treatment of Lyme disease with Dr. Sam Donta

“Doctors need to recognize that the screening tests now, as they’ve been for a number of years, are not accurate. When it does come up positive, that’s helpful for the diagnosis”

Dr. Sam Donta

In this episode, Sarah interviews an Infectious Disease Physician who has treated Lyme patients in the US state where Lyme disease was first identified – Connecticut. Dr. Sam Donta has gained a wealth of knowledge and expertise treating Lyme patients for almost 40 years. As a result of his expertise, he was appointed as one of 14 members of the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, established by the US Congress in 2016. 

Dr. Sam Donta emphasizes the importance of early treatment for Lyme disease, noting that as time passes, the disease becomes much more difficult to treat. He discusses some of the challenges with diagnosing the disease in the absence of a typical bullseye rash. Due to limitations of the current testing protocol, patients can have a negative Lyme disease test but still have the disease. Dr. Donta emphasizes the importance of doing an in-depth patient history in order to make a clinical diagnosis and shares some of the insights he has gained through decades of treating Lyme patients. He cautions that stopping treatment before patients are fully recovered may lead to problems later on. 

Finally, Dr. Donta looks to the future, pointing out the need for more research to improve testing and guide treatment. Thank you Dr. Donta for spending time with us and sharing your expertise on Lyme disease!

Find out more about our forthcoming educator resource!

“The earlier you identify and treat the infection, the more likely it is that you’ll be cured of the disease”

Dr. Sam Donta

Notes and references

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to stop (early) treatment when the patient is some better but not all better”

Dr. Sam Donta

HHS Tick-Borne Diseases Working Group

Research out of Johns Hopkins University

Bijaya Sharma, Autumn V. Brown, Nicole E. Matluck, Linden T. Hu, Kim Lewis. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy Jul 2015, 59 (8) 4616-4624; DOI: 10.1128/AAC.00864-15

Looking at Lyme episode six with Dr. Sam Donta.

“One of the mistakes that has been made…is that the duration of treatment, even initially, may not be adequate”

Dr. Sam Donta

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