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A 19-year-old youth was hospitalised because of sudden onset of incomplete lid closure and drooping mouth on the left. He regularly walked through fields and woods; three weeks before admission he had noted swelling and reddening on his neck, which he thought was due to an insect bite. When 9 years old a functional heart murmur and 1 degree AV block (P-R interval 0.25s) had been found. Physical examination showed peripheral facial paresis and a 2/6 systolic murmur over the aortic area.
As Borreliosis (
Lyme disease) was suspected, relevant laboratory tests were performed. These revealed specific IgM antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi. Polymerase chain reaction demonstrated B. burgdorferi-specific DNA in cerebrospinal fluid and urine. The ECG showed 1 degree AV block (P-R interval 0.28s).
TREATMENT AND COURSE:
Ceftriaxone was administered at once (4 g, followed by 2 g daily intravenously for 14 days). The P-R interval increased to maximally 0.31 s and transient incomplete right bundle branch block developed on the second day. Long-term ECG monitoring also revealed ventricular arrhythmias (Lown IVb), but they gradually disappeared. The neurological signs regressed completely within five days of the start of treatment, while the P-R interval had returned to its initial value of 0.25 s 3 months later.
The case makes clear that an ECG should be recorded in borreliosis even in the absence of cardiac symptoms. Hospitalisation with long-term monitoring becomes necessary if it is abnormal.