Antibiotic treatment duration and long-term outcomes of patients with early Lyme disease from a Lyme disease-hyperendemic area – Source: Clinical Infectious Diseases, Feb 2010

Background: The length of antibiotic therapy and long-term outcomes in patients with early Lyme disease are incompletely described. We report the long-term clinical outcomes of patients with early localized and early disseminated Lyme disease based on the duration of antibiotic therapy prescribed. [For descriptions of the three stages of Lyme signs & symptoms, click here.]

Methods: A retrospective cohort study and follow-up survey of patients diagnosed as having early localized and early disseminated Lyme disease from 1 January 2000 through 31 December 2004 was conducted in a Lyme disease-hyperendemic area.

Six hundred seven patients met the study inclusion criteria. Most patients (93%) were treated with doxycycline for treatment durations of 10 days, 11-15 days, or 16 days in 17%, 33%, and 47% of doxycycline-treated patients, respectively.

Treatment failure criteria, defined before performing the study, were met in only 6 patients (1%). Although these 6 patients met a priori treatment failure criteria, 4 of these patients’ clinical details suggested reinfection, 1 was treated with an inappropriate antibiotic, and 1 developed facial palsy early in therapy.

Reinfection developed in 4% of patients.

The 2-year treatment failure-free survival rates of patients treated with antibiotics for 10 days, 11-15 days, or 16 days were 99.0%, 98.9%, and 99.2%, respectively.

Patients treated with antibiotics for 16 days had lower 36-item Short-Form Health Survey social functioning scores on the follow-up survey. No other differences were found in follow-up clinical status or 36-item Short-Form Health Survey scores by duration of antibiotic treatment.


• Patients treated for 10 days with antibiotic therapy for early Lyme disease have long-term outcomes similar to those of patients treated with longer courses.

• Treatment failure after appropriately targeted short-course therapy, if it occurs, is exceedingly rare.

Source: Clinical Infectious Diseases, Feb 2010.15;50(4):512-20.PMID: 20070237, by Kowalski TJ, Tata S, Berth W, Mathiason MA, Agger WA. Section of Infectious Disease and Departments of Medical Education, Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation, La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA. [E-mail:]

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