Objective: Chronic Lyme disease has been a poorly defined term and often dismissed as a fictitious entity. In this paper, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) provides its evidence-based definition of chronic Lyme disease. Definition: ILADS defines chronic Lyme disease (CLD) as a multisystem illness with a wide range of symptoms and/or signs that are either continuously or intermittently present for a minimum of six months. The illness is the result of an active and ongoing infection by any of several pathogenic members of the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato complex (Bbsl). The infection has variable latency periods and signs and symptoms may wax, wane and migrate. CLD has two subcategories, CLD, untreated (CLD-U) and CLD, previously treated (CLD-PT). The latter requires that CLD manifestations persist or recur following treatment and are present continuously or in a relapsing/remitting pattern for a duration of six months or more. Methods: Systematic review of over 250 peer reviewed papers in the international literature to characterize the clinical spectrum of CLD-U and CLD-PT. Conclusion: This evidence-based definition of chronic Lyme disease clarifies the term's meaning and the literature review validates that chronic and ongoing Bbsl infections can result in chronic disease. Use of this CLD definition will promote a better understanding of the infection and facilitate future research of this infection.
Keywords: Borrelia infection; CLD; Lyme disease; borreliosis; chronic Lyme; late Lyme; neuroborreliosis; persistent Lyme disease; post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS); untreated Lyme.