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Thread: New Lyme Disease study questions whether it is a chronic illness

  1. #1
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    New Lyme Disease study questions whether it is a chronic illness

    From today's New York Times. Findings indicate that each occurrence of Lyme disesase is a new infection, not a relapse:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/he...ds.html?ref=us

    Which calls into question whether Lyme disease is a chronic illness.

    I thought Lyme could be detected through spirochetes, and that these spirochetes could not be entirely removed from patients, which is why symptoms could recur. I seem to be entirely mistaken.

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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Eagan View Post
    From today's New York Times. Findings indicate that each occurrence of Lyme disesase is a new infection, not a relapse:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/he...ds.html?ref=us

    Which calls into question whether Lyme disease is a chronic illness.
    Quote Originally Posted by from Wikipedia
    Chronic (medicine)
    A chronic condition is a human health condition or disease that is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects.[1] The term chronic is usually applied when the course of the disease lasts for more than three months.[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_%28medicine%29
    Under this definition, Lyme disease is a chronic illness because it can continue for long periods when untreated. (A disease can also be chronic with treatment when it is suppressed, but not entirely killed by the treatment. eg AIDS.)

    The NYT article addresses a different situation: infection, apparently successful treatment, and reinfection. The question being asked is "is the reinfection a reoccurrence of the original infection or a new infection?". The article concludes that the reoccurrence is generally a new infection.

    I thought Lyme could be detected through spirochetes, and that these spirochetes could not be entirely removed from patients, which is why symptoms could recur. I seem to be entirely mistaken.
    I believe that the clinical tests are antibody tests--they check for the body's response to the Lyme spirochetes, not the spirochetes themselves. The study used tests for a specific gene in the Lyme spirochete to distinguish new infections from reemergence of the original infection. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1114362

    I conclude that the study suggests that Lyme is not generally chronic when treated. However, it does not appear to prove that chronic Lyme (with treatment) is impossible. (The study only used 17 subjects and while it can conclude that something is unlikely, it cannot prove that it is impossible.)

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 11-15-2012 at 11:48 AM.

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    Senior Member The Unstrung Harp's Avatar
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    I agree that 17 is a pretty small study. Would love to see this same study on 1700.
    0/1 NH48-THRU

    Trek For Peace

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    Senior Member erugs's Avatar
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    I disagree with that study based on personal experience. My lyme disease was finally diagnosed after some years of declining health. Local labs did not diagnose, but a specialty lab in California found I had several bands positive. (The CDC demands 5 bands positive for their servaillance purposes, and that's the criteria others go by.) I am on a regime of long-term antibiotics and still test positive annually. Through general conversation, I am discovering more and more people who have been properly diagnosed with lyme disease. Some say it can't be chronic; others say it is of epidemic proportions. All I know is that it has negatively alterered my life.

    This from the article which has been echoing in my head since I read it: "However, some doctors, patients and advocacy groups think that the bacteria themselves can somehow hang on despite treatment, even in cases caught early, and cause a chronic infection that requires long-term treatment with antibiotics. The phrase "somehow hang on" shows a lack of understanding. The lifespan of the bacteria is s l o w. And the bacteria is covered with a material that makes it not available to the medication.

    Does anyone want me for a blood donor?

    Some people say man didn't land on the moon, others say that 5-hour shots won't harm you, a few people refuse to believe it will get dark before they return to their car. How do we know what to believe?
    Last edited by erugs; 11-15-2012 at 02:28 PM.
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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    While we are on the topic of Lyme disease, a new segment of "Second Opinion" on Lime Disease will interest many: watch the video (26 min): http://secondopinion-tv.org/episode/lyme-disease It features a medical panel discussing the case of a man whose diagnosis was delayed resulting in joint damage, and when finally diagnosed, he went through several rounds of treatment and finally surgery to remove the damaged joint tissue.

    There is some info about chronic effects. (The disease can trigger an autoimmune response which can continue after the disease itself is gone.)

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 11-15-2012 at 05:04 PM.

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    Senior Member daxs's Avatar
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    Lyme disease is a controversial topic. There is not concensus among infectious disease physicians about diagnosis, treatment, whether its a chronic disease. Testing usually consists of a screening test. If its positive, a western blot test is done. You have so many positive bands, its a diagnosis of Lyme disease. Not enough bands and its considered negative. Since syphllis is a spirochete too, it can cause a positive screening test. I'm not sure of the sensitivity and specificity of the screening test. If you think you've been exposed, harrass your provider to order the westen blot and not just a screening test.
    Carol

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    Senior Member spider solo's Avatar
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    year # 4 with Lyme for me.
    I get so tired of hearing how we don't exist...there are some real dmbfk doctors out there I can certainly say that....
    "you've got to stand for something
    or...you'll fall for anything"

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