Retired Cape doctor named to national panel on tick-borne illness

Sam Donta treated thousands of individuals such as Lyme disease.

Cynthia McCormick @Cmccormickcct

FALMOUTH — An infectious-disease expert from Falmouth having a long history of treating patients with Lyme disease was appointed to a national subcommittee analyzing tick-borne illness.

Dr. Sam T. Donta was one of 53 people delegated this month to serve on six subcommittees of their Tick-Borne Infection Working Group, which is charged with advising the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services on the future direction of tick disease therapy and research.

“The mission is to determine what needs to be done to additional progress the diagnosis” and therapy of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, Donta explained.

“The fundamental theme is people’s continuing symptoms,” Donta, 79, said.

The first stage of Lyme disease transmitted by the bite of the black-legged deer tick comprises fatigue, flulike symptoms and a rash.

But it’s later symptoms of the bacterial illness that individuals say mess lives because they influence cognition, vision, joints, tendons as well as the heart.

The ideal treatment for chronic, late-stage or relapsing Lyme disease continues to be a medical governmental football, as some infectious-disease experts such as Donta espouse the usage of long-term antibiotics while other doctors decry their usage and say there is no proof of lingering infection.

“Some progress is being made. More have to be produced,” stated Donta, That Has Been affiliated with Boston University and the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington.

“Patients have persisting symptoms,” Donta explained.

Donta, who retired in 2015, estimates that he has treated at least 8,000 people from the Cape and beyond since 2003.

He is working on the Pathogenesis, Transmission and Therapy subcommittee of their Tick-Borne Diseases Working Group together with such luminaries as Dr. Brian Fallon of Columbia University’s Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center, along with Dr. Patricia K. Coyle, neurologist in Stony Brook University Medical Center.

The working class was formally launched in August as a result of the 21st Century Cures Act enacted by Congress from 2016 to examine an assortment of health issues such as opioid addiction and behavioral health.

Critics of the action point to its service by leading pharmaceutical companies and wonder its advocacy of patients and consumers.

Among the working class subcommittees concentrates on vaccines and therapeutics while others examine surveillance, diagnostics and accessibility to care.

The working class is scheduled to make a record to the Health and Human Services secretary in December and then every two years after that.

The Tick-Borne Infection Working Group is led by Dr. John N. Aucott of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and contains Charles Benjamin Beard, a Master in bacterial infections with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Donta, who stated he serves to the U.S. Army Medical Research Tick-Borne Disease Programmatic Panel Beard, stated Beard “knows there’s a issue and wants something done”

Donta also serves to the Barnstable County Lyme/Tickborne Diseases Task Force.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease every year. The number of additional tick-borne diseases is also on the upswing.

Over the Cape, folks are sickened by bacterial tick-borne disorders babesiosis, anaplasmosis and miyamotoi, and past year at two Cape guys died from the tick-borne Powassan virus.

Lisa Freeman, a registered nurse who set on the Cape Lyme Advocacy Service Program, stated Donta brings a wealth of knowledge to talks about Lyme in the federal level.

“I really hope they can see that really is a chronic issue that needs more focus,” Freeman said.

— Practice Cynthia McCormick on Twitter: @Cmccormickcct.