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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 2 (1991), Issue 2, Pages 61-63
Consensus Conference on Lyme Disease

Overview of the Clinical Manifestations of Borrelia burgdorferi Infection

Raymond J Dattwyler and Benjamin J Luft

Department of Medicine, SUNY at Stony Brook Health Sciences Center, Stony Brook, New York, USA

Copyright © 1991 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Lyme disease, caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, has classically been divided into three stages: erythema migrans; neurological or cardiac involvement; and arthritis. Rather than defining a set disease pattern, however, one should, more logically, conceptualize a progressive infection that may be localized or disseminated, acute or chronic. Erythema migrans, the earliest and most easily recognized manifestation of B burgdorferi infection, is an expanding annular erythematous skin lesion with a central clearing that develops soon after the bite of an infected ixodes tick. Musculoskeletal manifestations are common, with approximately one-half of untreated individuals developing arthritis. Of these, only 10% have chronic arthritis. Invasion of the central nervous system occurs as the infection disseminates hematogenously, with encephalitis, myelitis and meningopolyneuritis being the most severe results. Acute cardiac involvement is recognized in up to 8% of adult patients, and less often in children. Early antibiotic treatment of the infection is highly effective.