Lyme disease: clinical features, classification, and epidemiology in the upper midwest

Medicine, Baltimore. 1991 Mar;70,2:83-90. Lyme disease: clinical features, classification, and epidemiology in the upper midwest. Agger W, Case KL, Bryant GL, Callister SM.

Section of Infectious Disease, La Crosse Lutheran Hospital, Wisconsin.

Lyme disease can be classified using the terminology of syphilis. In this series of 95 cases from the upper midwest, early cases, defined as an illness of less than 2 months, were more likely to have lived in or recently visited a highly endemic area. Unlike late cases, early cases presented entirely in the nonwinter months, p less than .001. Early disease was further subdivided into primary and secondary disease. Ninety percent of primary and 43% of secondary cases had erythema migrans, while no late cases had active erythema migrans, p less than .001. Clinical manifestations of nonspecific inflammation, except for arthralgia, were more common in early than late disease, p less than .01. In secondary cases, monoarticular arthritis was slightly more common than polyarticular arthritis, with the reverse occurring in late disease, p less than .05. Indirect fluorescent antibody testing revealed a ratio of IgM to IgG antibodies to be helpful in distinguishing early from late disease. Antibacterial therapy in early, primary cases caused Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction 7% of the time. Despite longer and more frequent parenteral therapy, late Lyme disease frequently required retreatment, owing to poor clinical response, p less than .05.

19.5: N Engl J Med. 1991 Apr 18;324(16):1137. Chronic neurologic manifestations of Lyme disease. Logigian EL, Kaplan RF, Steere AC. Department of Neurology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111.

BACKGROUND AND METHODS. Lyme disease, caused by the tick-borne spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, is associated with a wide variety of neurologic manifestations. To define further the chronic neurologic abnormalities of Lyme disease, we studied 27 patients, age range, 25 to 72 years, with previous signs of Lyme disease, current evidence of immunity to B. burgdorferi, and chronic neurologic symptoms with no other identifiable cause. Eight of the patients had been followed prospectively for 8 to 12 years after the onset of infection. RESULTS. Of the 27 patients, 24, 89 percent, had a mild encephalopathy that began 1 month to 14 years after the onset of the disease and was characterized by memory loss, mood changes, or sleep disturbance. Of the 24 patients, 14 had memory impairment on neuropsychological tests, and 18 had increased cerebrospinal fluid protein levels, evidence of intrathecal production of antibody to B. burgdorferi, or both. Nineteen of the 27 patients,70 percent, had polyneuropathy with radicular pain or distal paresthesias; all but two of these patients also had encephalopathy. In 16 patients electrophysiologic testing showed an axonal polyneuropathy. One patient had leukoencephalitis with asymmetric spastic diplegia, periventricular white-matter lesions, and intrathecal production of antibody to B. burgdorferi. Among the 27 patients, associated symptoms included fatigue, 74 percent, headache, 48 percent, arthritis, 37 percent, and hearing loss, 15 percent. At the time of examination, chronic neurologic abnormalities had been present from 3 months to 14 years, usually with little progression. Six months after a two-week course of intravenous ceftriaxone, 2 g daily, 17 patients, 63 percent, had improvement; 6, 22 percent, had improvement but then relapsed; and 4,15 percent, had no change in their condition. CONCLUSIONS. Months to years after the initial infection with B. burgdorferi, patients with Lyme disease may have chronic encephalopathy, polyneuropathy, or less commonly, leukoencephalitis. These chronic neurologic abnormalities usually improve with antibiotic therapy.

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