(NECN) -- There are some doctors who call it an epidemic. The
alarming increase in the number of cases of lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control recently revised its numbers of cases nationwide from 30,000 to 300,000.
There is agreement in the medical community that it is a growing problem but controversy remains over the existence of the
condition known as chronic lyme.
The Centers for Disease Control does not recognize chronic lyme and says the use of long term antibiotics to treat the condition has no scientific proof that it works and can in fact be harmful to patients. A growing number of what are known as "lyme literate" doctors are challenging the CDC and believe there's plenty of evidence to show people who are bit by an infected tick but never treated can develop chronic lyme and a host of debilitating illnesses as a result.
In some New England states like Massachusetts and New
Hampshire there are laws to protect doctors who treat chronic lyme. Similar legislation failed in Maine and doctors who do diagnose and treat chronic lyme often do it under the radar.
A Maine physician was disciplined in September by the medical board and can no longer treat patients for chronic lyme
disease unless he follows the CDC guidelines.
Lyme disease patients in Maine say it is difficult to find a physician to treat them and when they do they have to pay all of the costs out of pocket. One point people on both sides of the controversy agree on is that more research needs to be done on chronic lyme disease.