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The interpretation of serological results for patients who had
Lyme disease many years ago is not well defined. We studied the serological status of 79 patients who had had
Lyme disease 10-20 years ago and did not currently have signs or symptoms of active
Lyme disease. Of the 40 patients who had had early
Lyme disease alone, 4 (10%) currently had IgM responses to Borrelia burgdorferi, and 10 (25%) still had IgG reactivity to the spirochete, as determined by a 2-test approach (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blot). Of the 39 patients who had had
Lyme arthritis, 6 (15%) currently had IgM responses and 24 (62%) still had IgG reactivity to the spirochete. IgM or IgG antibody responses to B. burgdorferi may persist for 10-20 years, but these responses are not indicative of active infection.