LDA/Columbia 2011
Scientific Conference

Hyatt Penns Landing

Philadelphia, PA

October 1-2, 2011

Category:  Lyme Signs, Symptoms, & Diagnosis

Can you get a new case of Lyme disease if you have been treated successfully once and how do you tell if the Lyme is a new case or just a second bout of a previous infection?

You can get a new case of Lyme disease if you have had it previously and have been treated with antibiotics and recover. If you are exposed to the bacteria again through another tick bite you can become re-infected and require treatment. If you develop symptoms after initial treatment and recovery, you should see your doctor to determine if it is a new infection or a recurrence of symptoms from an earlier infection. It can be difficult to distinguish whether or not your symptoms are the result of a new infection or a previous infection. If you have not been exposed again to tick bites, then a symptom recurrence may be due to either another unrelated illness, a tick co-infection that was not previously identified, a Borrelia-triggered immune mediated symptom complex that now has its own time course for resolution, or a re-emergence of the initial infection that had been only partially treated. In most cases, a solo EM rash and fever would be a sign of a new acute infection. However, some patients do experience recurrent EM rashes known as satellite rashes that may occur later in the course of disease. Serologic testing carried out by your physician may help in the interpretation of your current symptoms. For example, if the quantity of antibodies in the serum as determined by a specific test such as the C6 ELISA shows a marked increased compared to what had been seen in a prior test after treatment, that would suggest a re-infection as the amount of spirochetal stimulus to the immune system after a tick-bite is going to be vastly higher than what might occur from a reactivated latent infection.

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