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Infectious Diseases

Lyme disease

11/17/2003

Question:

My doctor treated primary Lyme with antibiotics for 6 weeks and there are no further symptoms. Therefore he suggested no further treatment. I am worried about future complications.

Answer:

Lyme disease is caused by a germ called Borrelia Burgdorferi. It is passed to people by the bite of a tick. Most persons get a specific rash called erythema chronicum migrans that looks like a red ring or red patch sometimes. It is not painful usually. Treatment during this stage with antibiotics is 90-95% effective in several studies. Most people that go on to have chronic problems from Lyme disease are those who never received the right antibiotics at the start. It is very uncommon for people to be treated early on and then go on to have chronic problems. Currently, there are no recommendations to treat people longer with antibiotics than what you have already received. In fact, there are studies that show long-term antibiotics don`t help at all for suspected chronic Lyme disease problems. I think you can be reassured that the odds are in your favor. 

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Response by:

Carl   Fichtenbaum, MD Carl Fichtenbaum, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati