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Lingering Lyme disease.

The long-term effects of Lyme disease appear more common than previously thought, researchers report.

Studies of patients at neurology or Lyme disease clinics have shown that that the illness can have long-lasting symptoms. But until now, researchers had not done a controlled study of the disease's long-term effects in the general population, asserts Nancy A. Shadick of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and her colleagues.

The team compared the cognitive and physical well-being of 38 adults from Ipswich, Mass., who had developed Lyme disease in the past 1 to 11 years with 43 residents of the same town who had not suffered from the infection.

The Lyme group had a higher incidence of verbal memory impairment, fatigue, joint pain, and other musculoskeletal difficulties than the uninfected group, the researchers report in the Oct. 15 ANNALS OF INTERNAL MEDICINE. "The presence of arthralgias [joint pain] was by far the best predictor of previous Lyme disease," they assert.

Thirteen of the Lyme patients had long-term ills related to the infection. The longer someone had gone untreated after getting infected, the more apt he or she was to have persistent symptoms, the scientists report.

If not eradicated with drugs early on, B. burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes the illness, penetrates the body's central nervous system and joints, they note.

The Lyme group had all taken antibiotics for their disease, but not everyone had received what physicians now consider optimal treatment, Shadick and her colleagues say. For example, only 19 patients received antibiotics within a month of the onset of symptoms.
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Title Annotation:long-term effects of the tick-borne disease more common than researchers had believed
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 7, 1995
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