Purpose: We collected data from an online survey of 200 of our patients, which evaluated the efficacy of dapsone (diaminodiphenyl sulfone, ie, DDS) combined with other antibiotics and agents that disrupt biofilms for the treatment of chronic Lyme disease/post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). We also collected aggregate data from direct retrospective chart review, including laboratory testing for Lyme, other infections, and associated tick-borne coinfections. This helped us to determine the frequency of exposure to other infections/coinfections among a cohort of chronically ill Lyme patients, evaluate the efficacy of newer "persister" drug regimens like DDS, and determine how other infections and tick-borne coinfections may be contributing to the burden of chronic illness leading to resistant symptomatology.
Patients and methods: A total of 200 adult patients recruited from a specialized Lyme disease medical practice had been ill for at least 1 year. We regularly monitored laboratory values and participants' symptom severity, and the patients completed the online symptom questionnaire both before beginning treatment and after 6 months on DDS combination therapy (DDS CT). Paired-samples t-tests and Wilcoxon signed-rank nonparametric test were performed on each of eight major Lyme symptoms, both before DDS CT and after 6 months of therapy.
Results: DDS CT statistically improved the eight major Lyme symptoms. We found multiple species of intracellular bacteria including rickettsia, Bartonella, Mycoplasma, Chlamydia, Tularemia, and Brucella contributing to the burden of illness and a high prevalence of Babesia complicating management with probable geographic spread of Babesia WA1/duncani to the Northeast. Borrelia, Bartonella, and Mycoplasma species, as well as Babesia microti had variable manifestations and diverse seroreactivity, with evidence of persistence despite commonly prescribed courses of anti-infective therapies. Occasional reactivation of viral infections including human herpes virus 6 was also seen in immunocompromised individuals.
Conclusion: DDS CT decreased eight major Lyme symptoms severity and improved treatment outcomes among patients with chronic Lyme disease/PTLDS and associated coinfections.
Keywords: Lyme disease; MSIDS; Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome; babesiosis; bartonella; immune deficiency; persister bacteria; tick-borne co-infections.