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Question:

My father's memory has been getting worse. Athen a doctor finally diagnosed him with Lyme disease. The doctor put him on IV antibiotics for one month and then took him off. Since then my father has gotten much worse. Before the lyme diagnosis other doctors said "probable alzheimers" but the way my father answered their questions had them confused. On an MRI someone wrote in a report "brain infection?" but no one followed through with it. I don't know what to do. My father is getting worse. His doctor just had the Igenix test done and we are waiting for the results but that is two weeks away and if we get a false negative then he will not get treatment. What is going on and what can I do?

Answered by: Brian Fallon

When the agent of Lyme disease affects the brain, it can cause an encephalitis. Symptoms associated with an encephalitis include confusion, personality changes, and a wide array of psychiatric and behavioral problems. Memory problems can certainly be caused by infection with the Lyme spirochete; in a person with pre-existing cognitive problems, perhaps related to age, the impact of a Lyme infection could be more dramatic. An improvement after antibiotics would suggest that an infection was being treated, although antibiotics are also known to have other properties that might be beneficial and not be due to killing bacteria. I recommend for your father that he get a thorough evaluation by a neurologist familiar with Lyme disease.