Background: Lyme disease patients with erythema migrans are said to have post-treatment Lyme disease symptoms (PTLDS) if there is persistence of subjective symptoms for at least 6 months following antibiotic treatment and resolution of the skin lesion. The purpose of this study was to characterize PTLDS in patients with culture-confirmed early Lyme disease followed for >10 years.
Methods: Adult patients with erythema migrans with a positive skin or blood culture for Borrelia burgdorferi were enrolled in a prospective study beginning in 1991 and followed up at 6 months and annually thereafter to determine the long-term outcome of this infection. The genotype of the infecting strain of B. burgdorferi was evaluated in subjects with PTLDS.
Results: One hundred twenty-eight subjects with culture-confirmed early Lyme disease, of whom 55% were male, were followed for a mean ± SD of 14.98 ± 2.71 years (median = 15 years; range = 11-20 years). Fourteen (10.9%) were regarded as having possible PTLDS, but only 6 (4.7%) had PTLDS documented at their last study visit. Nine (64.3%) had only a single symptom. None of the 6 with PTLDS at their last visit was considered to be functionally impaired by the symptom(s). PTLDS was not associated with a particular genotype of B. burgdorferi.
Conclusions: PTLDS may persist for >10 years in some patients with culture-confirmed early Lyme disease. Such long-standing symptoms were not associated with functional impairment or a particular strain of B. burgdorferi.
Keywords: Borrelia burgdorferi; Lyme; Lyme disease; erythema migrans; post-treatment Lyme disease symptoms.
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