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Fatigue, poor quality of life, depression hallmarks of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome

06 Feb 2018
The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.

Clinically significant fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbance and depression are common in patients with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS), a recent US study has shown.

The study included 61 patients with defined PTLDS (mean age 49.3 years; 52.5 percent female) and 26 healthy controls (mean age 54.7 years; 53.9 percent female) without a history of Lyme disease. Self-reported fatigue was significantly higher in the PTLDS patients relative to controls, according to the Fatigue Severity Scale (50.0±10.6 vs 19.8±8.6 points; p<0.001).

In the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire, PTLDS patients were found to have significantly worse pain than controls (13.7±8.3 vs 0.8±1.9 points; p<0.001). Depression was likewise significantly worse in PTLDS patients, as per the Beck Depression Inventory (15.1±7.7 vs 2.2±3.2 points; p<0.001).

Moreover, the proportion of participants reporting symptom severity above the clinically relevant cutoffs were significantly higher in the PTLDS vs control group for fatigue (86.9 percent vs 7.7 percent), sleep quality (79.3 percent vs 26.9 percent) and depression (50.0 percent vs 0.0 percent; p<0.001 for all).

Quality of life was also poorer for PTLDS patients, who scored significantly lower on the physical component score part of the Short-Form Health Survey than the population mean (p<0.001). Mental component scores were also significantly lower among PTLDS patients (p<0.001).

The current findings indicated that while physical and clinical laboratory tests showed few abnormalities that could be used to identify PTLDS patients, “standardized questionnaires revealed that these patients are highly symptomatic, with clinically significantly poorer quality of life compared both to healthy controls and the US population,” researchers said.

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