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Challenges in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease


Purpose of Review

Since recognition in 1975, Lyme disease has become the most common vector-borne illness in North America and Europe. The clinical features are well-characterized and treatment is usually curative, but misperceptions about morbidity persist. The purpose of this review is to examine advances in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, as well as ongoing management challenges.

Recent Findings

It is useful to recognize that Lyme disease occurs in stages, with early- and late-stage disease. Clinical expression is in part determined by Borrelial variability. For example, some strains of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative organism in North America, are particularly arthritogenic. Most patients with early Lyme disease can be cured with a single course of oral antibiotic therapy, in contrast to some patients with Lyme arthritis, a late-stage manifestation, who are more antibiotic refractory and require other treatment strategies.


Successful treatment of Lyme disease begins with successful diagnosis and with an understanding of the emergence, clinical features, and impact of Lyme disease over the past half century.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Robert T. Schoen.

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Schoen, R.T. Challenges in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease. Curr Rheumatol Rep 22, 3 (2020).

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  • Lyme disease
  • Lyme arthritis
  • Lyme disease treatment