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Public health impact of strain specific immunity to Borrelia burgdorferi

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Editor’s Note: Most Lyme-literate researchers and doctors do not believe that it is possible to acquire immunity to Borrelia burgdorferi through early treatment of Lyme. This study involves at least one researcher whose interests represent the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), which has biased and flawed guidelines for the treatment of chronic Lyme disease. The study may therefore be based upon an unproven premise.

Lyme disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, is the most common tick-borne infection in the United States. Although humans can be infected by at least 16 different strains of B. burgdorferi, the overwhelming majority of infections are due to only four strains. It was recently demonstrated that patients who are treated for early Lyme disease develop immunity to the specific strain of B. burgdorferi that caused their infection. The aim of this study is to estimate the reduction in cases of Lyme disease in the United States that may occur as a result of type specific immunity.
The analysis was performed based on three analytical models that assessed the effects of type specific immunity. Observational data on the frequency with which different B. burgdorferi strains cause human infection in culture-confirmed patients with an initial episode of erythema migrans diagnosed between 1991 and 2005 in the Northeastern United States were used in the analyses.
Assuming a reinfection rate of 3 % and a total incidence of Lyme disease per year of 300,000, the estimated number of averted cases ofLyme disease per year ranges from 319 to 2378 depending on the duration of type specific immunity and the model used.
Given the assumptions of the analyses, this analysis suggests that type specific immunity is likely to have public health significance in the United States.
Source:  Khatchikian CE, Nadelman RB, Nowakowski J, Schwartz I, Levy MZ, Brisson D6, Wormser GP. Public health impact of strain specific immunity to Borrelia burgdorferi. BMC Infect Dis. (2015 Oct 26);15:472. doi: 10.1186/s12879-015-1190-7.

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