Many medical professionals produce an irksome reaction when a patient or family member utters these words: chronic Lyme disease. It’s a controversial topic and much of the consensus is that chronic Lyme disease does not exist. This is due to the fact that there has been no reproducible evidence that the bacterial spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, is present in patients claiming to have the chronic illness. However, more than 10% of patients treated for Lyme disease claim to have persistent symptoms, some of which are life-altering. Around 300,000 individuals in the United States alone are estimated to be afflicted with Lyme disease. In recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged the existence of a condition known as ‘post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome’.
This condition is designated to those suffering from symptoms such as chronic pain, fatigue, sleep disruption and “brain fog”. A recent study conducted by the John Hopkins School of Medicine has demonstrated, using positron emission tomography (PET) scans, that brain inflammation does exist within these individuals. Those diagnosed with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (n=12) were compared with healthy controls (n=19) and found a significant difference between the imaging of the two groups. The team at John Hopkins recognizes that their study is small and that they did not include a group who totally recovered from Lyme disease. However, this may be a step in the right direction to understand better the pathogenesis of a condition very misunderstood that is plaguing many people in the world today.