Lyme Disease Causes United States Army Officer to Have to Retire Early

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Latent Lyme Disease Resulting in Chronic Arthritis and Early Career Termination in a United States Army Officer

Abstract

Lyme disease is a continuing threat to military personnel operating in arboriferous and mountainous environments. Here we present the case of a 24-year-old Second Lieutenant, a recent graduate from the United States Military Academy, with a history of Lyme disease who developed recurrent knee effusions following surgery to correct a hip impingement.

Although gonococcal arthritis was initially suspected from preliminary laboratory results, a comprehensive evaluation contradicted this diagnosis. Despite antibiotic therapy, aspiration of the effusions, and steroid treatment to control inflammation, the condition of the patient deteriorated to the point where he was found to be unfit for duty and subsequently discharged from active military service.

This case illustrates the profound effect that latent Lyme disease can have on the quality of life and the career of an active duty military member. It highlights the need for increased surveillance for Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi) in military training areas and for the early and aggressive diagnosis and treatment of military personnel who present with the symptoms of acute Lyme disease.

Source: By Weiss T1, Zhu P1, White H1, Posner M1, Wickiser JK1, Washington MA1, Barnhill J1. Latent Lyme Disease Resulting in Chronic Arthritis and Early Career Termination in a United States Army Officer.  Mil Med. 2019 Mar 6. pii: usz026. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usz026. [Epub ahead of print]

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