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Screening for Lyme disease in hospitalized psychiatric patients: prospective serosurvey in an endemic area.

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Nervous system involvement in
Lyme disease may mimic certain psychiatric disorders. We studied whether it is worthwhile to conduct routine screening of psychiatric inpatients for serologic evidence of
Lyme disease.


Between March 1988 and June 1989, we prospectively screened sera for
Lyme disease from adults admitted to an acute care psychiatric hospital in Westchester County. New York, an area in which this infection is endemic. Of all cases of
Lyme disease reported to the U.S. Public Health Service in 1988, 16% originated in Westchester County. The prevalence in healthy blood donors from this area were reported to be 0.7%. Sera were tested by fluorescent immunoassay alone (90%) or fluorescent immunoassay plus enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (10%).


Sera from only 1 of 517 patients demonstrated antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of
Lyme disease (0.2% [95% CI, 0.0% to 1.1%]). This patient had a nonreactive Western blot, which suggested a false-positive antibody test.


We cannot presently recommend routine serologic screening for
Lyme disease for adult psychiatric inpatients, even in areas of the United States where this illness is endemic.

Mt Sinai J Med. 1997 Nov;64(6):409-12. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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