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Does Chronic Lyme Disease Exist?


Robert Bransfield, MD, DLFAPA, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, discusses the existence of chronic Lyme disease.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
“Well, the term chronic Lyme disease has been around for a much longer time than post-treatment Lyme disease, that’s a relatively newer term, and there’re many other similar terms. Another term is late-stage Lyme disease. Post-treatment Lyme disease means that there’s been some degree of treatment, although it may be variable, and there’re a lot of unknowns with that, because some people have been treated [with], maybe, a very brief course of antibiotics that’s been insufficient. Other people have had a significant amount [of treatment]. [With] some people there’s a true recovery, and [with] other people there may not be, so it’s confusing because it’s a very mixed, heterogeneous group.
Now, the concept of chronic Lyme implies that there’s two things: there’s chronic symptoms as well as chronic infection. That’s what the issue that some people debate. Everyone has a consensus that there are chronic symptoms associated with Lyme disease. Not everyone who has Lyme disease has chronic symptoms, but some people do, many people do. Now, the question is, is there chronic persistent infection? And the problem there is related to testing and how do you assess if there’s chronic Lyme present or not.
Now, there’re 700 journal articles documenting the validity of chronic Lyme disease. There’re about 300 specifically on that, and there’re over 300 looking at psychiatric symptoms associated with chronic Lyme. There’re symptoms associated with congenital, there’re articles associated with congenital Lyme, and articles associated with Alzheimer’s associated with [chronic Lyme].
There’s a large amount of peer-reviewed evidence supporting the validity [of chronic Lyme]. There’re animal studies, there’re over 100 autopsy studies showing people [with chronic Lyme]. There’s the case of Vicki Logan who had months and months and months of IV antibiotics and an autopsy [showed] that there was Lyme in the central nervous system.
Without a doubt, chronic Lyme disease does exist. We have to recognize this is a very complex [disease]. When [Lyme] is chronic, you can see it persist in spite of significant treatment in some people. In other people it seems like it can be treated and doesn’t become chronic.”
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