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Early Lyme Disease Masquerading as Mononucleosis: A Case Report

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By R. Tumminello, et al. • • November 21, 2017

Disseminated Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose, as it begins with nonspecific signs and symptoms, which, if not treated correctly, can lead to atrioventricular conduction blocks and meningitis. In addition, the diagnosis can be further complicated by potentially false-positive test results.
We report a case of early-disseminated Lyme disease presenting with Borrelia meningitis and concomitant Lyme carditis, which was misdiagnosed as mononucleosis. A young, previously healthy patient had been hiking in the woods of upstate New York and 4 weeks later developed fever, night sweats, and myalgias. He was diagnosed with mononucleosis via a positive rapid heterophile agglutination antibody test to the Epstein-Barr virus at a walk-in clinic and was started on medications, but then subsequently developed left hip pain, a facial droop, and a very long first-degree atrioventricular conduction block. He went to the Emergency Department, where he had testing that confirmed disseminated Lyme disease.
This case highlights the difficulty in early diagnosis of disseminated Lyme disease and how a potentially false-positive laboratory test can lead to the complications of Borrelia meningitis and Lyme carditis in untreated young healthy patients. Emergency physicians need to consider Lyme disease in patients with nonspecific signs and symptoms, especially if they have been outdoors for prolonged periods of time in Lyme-endemic areas.
Source: By Tumminello R1, Glaspey L2, Bhamidipati A2, Sheehan P2, Patel S2.
Early Disseminated Lyme Disease Masquerading as Mononucleosis: A Case Report.  J Emerg Med. 2017 Oct 25. pii: S0736-4679(17)30861-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2017.09.005. [Epub ahead of print]

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