The approaches to diagnosing and treating
Lyme disease (LD) have been improved and refined as a result of basic and clinical research, and considerable practical experience. In addition, there have been recent studies that have allowed improvements in the ability to prevent infection with Borrelia burgdorferi. This paper will review the relevant literature and address recent developments in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of LD. Issues specifically related to the management of children will be identified. Controversies regarding treatment approaches will be examined in some detail. Understanding the clinical manifestations, or stage, of LD is crucial when approaching both diagnosis and treatment. Early localized
disease is best diagnosed by recognizing the characteristic skin lesion, erythema migrans. Early
disease will frequently, but not always, be accompanied by a detectable antibody response, particularly IgM antibody to the spirochete. Late
disease, chiefly arthritis, is generally associated with high levels of IgG antibody. Western blot technology allows confirmation of enzyme immunoassay results and is especially useful when the latter is in the low or equivocal range. Early localized
disease responds well to oral antibacterial therapy. Early disseminated
disease, often associated with neurologic findings, may require parenteral therapy. The arthritis associated with LD frequently responds to oral antibacterials, but some refractory cases may require intravenous therapy, and occasionally surgery. Doxycycline is the oral antibacterial of choice, while amoxicillin and cefuroxime axetil are alternatives that may be preferred in young children. Owing to its long half-life and once daily dose administration, intravenous ceftriaxone has become the accepted standard for parenteral therapy. Tick avoidance has long been the mainstay for preventing LD. Antibacterial prophylaxis, using doxycycline, for tick bites has been shown to be an effective approach to prevention, but its relevance to pediatrics is uncertain. Vaccines designed to prevent infection have also been developed.