A 52-year-old female was seen in my office several months ago. She has a history of tick bite and bull’s-eye rash treated with recommend "standard" doxycycline for 3 weeks and she felt well -- until she didn't. Symptoms appeared gradually. Eighteen months later18 months later she complained of: incapacitating fatigue, poor sleep, diffuse pain, weakness, numbness and tingling, headaches, cognitive impairments–trouble remembering words, impaired focus and attention and memory loss, to the point of disability. She was hanging onto her job by a thread.
She also experienced severe night sweats but had chalked it up to menopause. The sweats however, were new and drenching, occurred several days weekly and were qualitatively different from previous night sweats -- primarily hot flashes.
With further question she stated she had been experiencing gasping mid-sentence and thought she had developed a tic.
Lab testing was positive for Lyme (CDC, IgM and IgG) and Anaplasma.
Lyme was initially treated with a triple regimen, doxycycline, rifampin and Tindamax. Also covers Anaplasma.
Within 4 months she reported getting her life back and regaining a high level of function. Babesia symptoms, well described above (night sweats, air hinger) persisted.
The treatment was changed. Rifampin was discontinued. Doxycycline, Zithromax and Mepron were prescribed.
Notes: Typical posttreatment Lyme disease, relatively early presentation (in my practice). The role of coinfection has been ignored in clinical studies. Lyme as sole infection, absent coinfection is rare. Coinfections may be difficult to diagnose because of poor diagnostic testing.
Human trials have used only doxycycline and Rocephin. In mice, triple IV therapy: daptomycin, doxycycline and Rocephin (ceftriaxone) was shown to eradicate Lyme spirochetes.
Medical literature suggests that about 20% of early patients treated by CDC standards will have chronic symptoms.
Many reasons have been suggested, Including:
Tick inoculates human host with antibiotic resistant biofilms.
Strain specific virulence factors.
Host specific immune responses.
Host already infected but asymptomatic.
Standard therapy ineffective -- high failure rate unacceptable, leads to chronic illness and/or serious sequalae.
Clinical approaches may include:
More aggressive cocktail therapy early
Careful monitoring of patient for persistent symptoms and symptoms suggesting coinfection and early treatment
Not telling patients: don't worry, symptoms will clear.