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Lyme disease rarely seen as MS.

Lyme Disease Rarely Seen as MS

Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by tick bites, can produce a wide variety of neurologic abnormalities, some of which mimic the symptoms of MS. People diagnosed with multiple sclerosis have therefore been concerned that perhaps they have been misdiagnosed and really have Lyme disease, which can be cured with early antibiotic therapy.

But multiple sclerosis and Lyme disease are not often confused, says Dr. Patricia Coyle, associate professor of neurology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, an area with a high rate of Lyme disease. In a recent study, the first of its kind in the U.S., she took 100 patients diagnosed with MS and tested their blood for antibodies to the Lyme-causing spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Only one patient tested positive, and an analysis of the medical records of that patient suggested the Lyme infection was coincidental. So there was not one misdiagnosis in this series.

"Clearly, if you're in an area where the MS prevalence is fairly high and where Lyme disease is frequent, you're going to have some overlap," Dr. Coyle observes. "But in general we can now conclude, based on my findings, that it is very unlikely a doctor will misdiagnose Lyme disease as multiple sclerosis." This is especially true now that Lyme disease has been getting so much attention in the medical and lay press, even though many neurologists may never have seen a case. Dr. Coyle's findings, which parallel those reported in an Austrian study, were published in the June 1989 Neurology.

Lyme disease was first identified near the town of Lyme, Connecticut in 1975; the tick carriers are presumed to be deer and field mice.
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Title Annotation:multiple sclerosis
Author:Shaw, Phyllis
Publication:Inside MS
Date:Jun 22, 1989
Previous Article:Using nature to fight MS.
Next Article:MS clusters: chance or design?

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