INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERTS AT NEW YORK MEDICAL COLLEGE SHED NEW LIGHT ON “CHRONIC” LYME DISEASE
VALHALLA, N.Y., October 4, 2007—Researchers at New York Medical College have released papers, one in a prestigious medical journal, the other at an annual meeting of infectious disease experts, giving new evidence likely to intensify the debate over chronic Lyme disease.
Gary P. Wormser, M.D., and colleagues have authored, “A Critical Appraisal of ‘Chronic Lyme Disease,’” published in the October 4, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Dr. Wormser is professor of medicine, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Westchester Medical Center and the College, and vice chairman of the College Department of Medicine.
In addition, College researchers released a preliminary study in which they concluded that people who experience a second episode of the characteristic Lyme disease bull’s-eye rash likely were bitten by another tick, rather than experiencing a relapse of the first infection. The research team, led by Robert B. Nadelman, M.D., professor of medicine, presented their findings at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) in San Diego, Calif., on October 6, 2007. The study is believed to be the first to evaluate molecular evidence of recurrent Lyme disease.
The most common tick-borne infection in the United States and Europe, Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, and transmitted to humans through the bite of a deer tick. Approximately 95 percent of people who are infected recover completely and promptly when treated with two or three weeks of antibiotics. Left untreated, symptoms may disappear at first but patients can relapse or develop late complications affecting the joints, heart, or nervous system.
The focus of the NEJM review is on the loosely defined condition referred to as “chronic” Lyme disease. The phrase is used by some practitioners to describe patients they believe have persistent B. burgdorferi infection, a condition they suggest requires long-term antibiotic treatment. The findings presented at the IDSA annual meeting support clinical evidence that a surprising number of patients experience more than one episode of Lyme disease and that recurrent infections are unrelated to the original infection.