LDA/Columbia 2011
Scientific Conference

Hyatt Penns Landing

Philadelphia, PA

October 1-2, 2011

Category:  Lyme overlap with other Diseases

Is it possible for Lyme disease to be misdiagnosed as ALS? Are there similarities in symptoms between these two diseases?

The question of a relationship between Lyme Disease and ALS first received significant academic attention when Dr. John Halpern who was then a neurologist at Stony Brook conducted a study in which he compared the frequency of blood test positivity to the agent of Lyme disease among patients with ALS to community controls. The results indicated a higher percentage of the ALS patients were seropositive for Lyme Disease. Since then, there have been isolated case reports both in the media and one or two in the academic literature indicating that a patient had been misdiagnosed with an ALS-like illness only later to be rediagosed and treated for Lyme disease with good clinical response. Although we suspect that there may be rare individuals for whom such a relationship does exist, the vast majority of patients with ALS are not thought to have Lyme disease as the cause of their serious disease. Clinical trials have been underway using antibiotics for ALS (such as minocycline or ceftriaxone) not because there is belief that ALS is caused by a microbe but because these antimicrobial agents have other properties as well, such as decreasing inflammation or decreasing glutamatergic excitotoxicity.

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