National Institutes of Health Study on Lyme Disease Reveals Significant Chronic Symptoms and Common Misdiagnosis

National Institutes of Health Study on Lyme Disease Reveals Significant Chronic Symptoms and Common Misdiagnosis

Sandy Dawkins, 617-937-2571

Kira Edler, 617-937-2578


National Institutes of Health Study on Lyme Disease Reveals Significant Chronic Symptoms and Common Misdiagnosis

Columbia University and Lyme Disease Association Announce New Data at 6th Annual Lyme Conference in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 28, 2005) – Columbia University and the Lyme Disease Association today announced results from a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study, which found that 76 percent of women and 24 percent of men with chronic Lyme disease exhibited specific symptoms, including pain similar to post surgical pain, fatigue comparable to Multiple Sclerosis, and physical disability comparable to congestive heart failure. Results were previewed at the 6th Annual Lyme Conference in Philadelphia, PA.

In addition, the study, titled “Chronic Lyme Disease in Adults,” found that adults, during the course of their Lyme disease, often showed neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as mood problems, which could cause them to be misdiagnosed as having a psychiatric disorder. Delay in diagnosis is common and can contribute to a more entrenched disease, as well as persistent or relapsing symptoms after treatment, such as severe pain, fatigue, and physical disability. On average, people struggle for 1.2 years before they are accurately diagnosed with Lyme disease.

“While much is known about early Lyme disease, very little is known about chronic Lyme disease, despite its rising prevalence and disabling effects,” said lead investigator Brian Fallon, M.D., associate professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University, and director, Lyme Disease Research Program, New York State Psychiatric Institute. “Continued research of this disease is essential to bring about earlier detection and more effective treatment.”

Another first-time presentation will be data from a placebo controlled clinical trial studying the quality of life and outcomes of treatment. The trial, “Results from Lyme Disease Clinical Trial: Effectiveness of Retreatment on Health-Related Quality of Life,” was conducted by Dr. Daniel Cameron, director, First Medical Associates, Mt. Kisco, New York, looked at the quality of life and the outcomes of treatment. This study showed that the quality of life of patients with recurrent Lyme disease is less than other chronically ill populations, such as patients with chronic heart failure, and that re-treatment with amoxicillin is helpful in treating long-term symptoms of Lyme disease.

“The Lyme Disease Association is pleased to collaborate once again with Columbia University to facilitate insightful discussions regarding the latest research findings about this prevalent infectious disease that significantly affects the lives of so many individuals and their families,” said Pat Smith, president, Lyme Disease Association. “Coupled with the soon-to-be opened Lyme Disease Research Center at Columbia University, this flagship LDA event serves as a national resource, and fosters important continued patient support.”

Other highlights at the conference include:

• “Infection biology of relapsing fever Borrelia: mechanisms of evasion and persistence,” results from a study conducted by Sven Bergstrom, Ph.D., Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. This study for the first time provides insight into how Lyme bacteria can stay in the human body without causing an immune system response. The study revealed that Lyme bacteria can persist in immune privileged sites that can be triggered to be reactivated. Typical symptoms with Lyme disease besides fever, are chills, headache, enlarged spleen and liver, meningitis and often severe involvement of the central nervous system.

• ”Invasion of human tissue ex vivo by Borrelia burgdorferi,” a study conducted by Dr. Joshua Zimmerberg from the NASA/NIH Center for Three Dimensional Tissue Culture, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, showed that the lack of an adequate in vitro system for human tissue infection by Lyme bacteria, is an obstacle to fully understanding how the Lyme bacteria interact and adapt in the human body.

Sponsored by Columbia University and the Lyme Disease Association, the Lyme Conference is expected to attract more than 250 physicians, health care providers, advocates, and patients. Other speakers at the conference include:
– Martin Fried, M.D., director, Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition, Meridian Health Systems, JSMC, New Jersey: Co-infection with Bartonella & other organisms
– Richard Brown, M.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; private consultation practice in integrative psychopharmacology in New York City: Complementary medicine strategies for the relief of Lyme-related symptoms
– Susan E. Little, DVM, Ph.D., professor and Endowed Chair Department of Pathobiology Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University: Tick-borne diseases in southern U.S.
– Dr. Klaus-Peter Hunfeld, MPH, Institute of Medical Microbiology, University Hospital of Frankfurt (SPEECH TOPIC NEEDED)

About Lyme Disease
Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne disease in the United States is contracted by the bite from a bacteria-infected tick. A vector-borne disease is transmitted from an infected individual to another individual by ticks or mosquitoes, serving as intermediary hosts. In humans, infection with Lyme disease bacteria can lead to problems related to the nervous system, heart, joints as well as the brain. In humans, infection with Lyme disease bacteria can lead to problems related to the nervous system, heart, joints as well as the brain. Symptoms of Lyme disease vary for each individual patient, but may include fever, chills, headache, backaches, fatigue, and a bull’s eye rash. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 220,000 to 240,000 Americans are infected with Lyme disease each year.

About the Lyme Disease Association
The Lyme Disease Association (LDA), an organization which expanded its focus nationally about 5 years ago, is dedicated to Lyme disease education, prevention, and raising research dollars. About ninety-six cents of every dollar raised by the Lyme Disease Association has been used on programs. In its search for a cure for chronic Lyme, the LDA has funded dozens of research projects coast to coast, some of which are featured in peer-reviewed journals, such as Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Along with an affiliate, Time for Lyme in Connecticut, the Lyme Disease Association is providing the funds to open with Columbia University, an endowed Lyme disease research center at Columbia in XXXX. For more information, please visit