Long-Term Treatment Outcomes For Lyme Disease Patients Are Positive, Yale Researchers Find
Despite widespread anxiety about Lyme disease, Yale researchers have found that treatments for the tick-borne disease are effective and long lasting.
“The outcomes of the vast majority of patients with Lyme disease were excellent and not much different from those who had not had the condition,” said Eugene Shapiro, M.D., professor of pediatrics and of epidemiology and public health at Yale School of Medicine. “The degree of anxiety about Lyme disease that many people have doesn’t appear to be justified, given the positive long-term treatment outcomes we’ve observed.”
Although sixty-nine percent of the patients who were studied reported increased frequency of symptoms such as pain and fatigue, few of these symptoms were attributed to Lyme disease. The problems were attributed to aging or to illnesses such as stroke. The number of people who reported problems was similar to the number of people without Lyme disease who reported such problems over the same period of time.
Published in the February 2 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the study looked at 678 patients, 64 percent of whom met the national surveillance case definition for Lyme disease. Most patients were treated with antimicrobial therapies.
Not all patients with Lyme disease have favorable outcomes, said Shapiro, who points out there is good evidence that in rare instances they may experience complications – particularly recurrent arthritis in patients who are not treated promptly and who have a genetic predisposition to arthritis.
“The large sample size and the positive overall outcomes should reassure both patients and physicians that the prognosis for the vast majority of Lyme disease patients who receive conventional antimicrobial treatment is excellent,” said Shapiro, who also is clinical professor of nursing at Yale School of Nursing.
Shapiro’s research team at Yale included Elyse G. Seltzer, M.D., and Kimberly Frudigman. Other team members included Michael A. Gerber, M.D., of University of Connecticut and Matthew L. Carter, M.D., of Connecticut Department of Public Health.