When Lyme disease is treated with appropriate antibiotic therapy in the early stages, long-term outcomes are good. However, a few patients have persistent symptoms despite appropriate therapy. Whether these patients' symptoms are any different from those of patients with reinfection is unclear. Our objective was to compare long-term symptoms and functional outcomes of patients with Borrelia burgdorferi reinfection with those of patients with only 1 episode of infection and with no history of infection. We compared outcomes of Lyme reinfection patients, characterized by recurrent erythema migrans (EM) lesions, with those of patients with 1 episode of Lyme disease (Lyme control) and with no history of Lyme disease (non-Lyme control) by retrospective medical record review and a survey consisting of a 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) and a 10-item symptom questionnaire. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) for continuous variables and χ(2) analysis for categorical variables were used. In cases of low cell counts, Fisher's exact tests were used. Bonferroni correction was used for multiple comparisons when ANOVA was significant. Reinfection was identified in 23/673 (3.4%) patients who had a diagnosis of Lyme disease in our health system during 2000-2004. Of the 23, 15 had long-term follow-up data and were age- and sex-matched to 45 Lyme control and 60 non-Lyme control group patients. Clinical characteristics were similar in the reinfection and Lyme control groups. SF-36 results were similar between groups for all domains except energy/vitality (VT). The SF-36 domain of VT was significantly different between groups: 63.0 vs. 54.5 vs. 64.5 in the reinfection, Lyme control, and non-Lyme control groups, respectively (p=0.047). Clinical features and long-term outcomes of patients with recurrent EM lesions were similar to those of the control groups and consistent with B. burgdorferi reinfection, not persistent infection. Patients with Lyme reinfection should be treated with antibiotic regimens similar to those used for patients with an initial episode of Lyme disease.
Keywords: Borrelia burgdorferi reinfection; Chronic Lyme disease; Long-term outcomes; Lyme disease.
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