The first clinical trial, which included two studies conducted at multiple research sites, provided no evidence that extended antibiotic treatment is beneficial (New Engl J Med 345: 85-92, 2001). In those studies, physicians examined long-term antibiotic therapy in patients with a well-documented history of previous Lyme disease, but who reported persistent pain, fatigue, impaired cognitive function, or unexplained numbness. Patients were treated with 30 days of an intravenous antibiotic followed by 60 days of treatment with an oral antibiotic.To recap:
These studies did reinforce the evidence that patients reporting PLDS symptoms have a severe impairment in overall physical health and quality of life. However, prolonged antibiotic therapy showed no benefit when compared with groups who received placebo.
In another study, published in 2003, researchers examined the effect of 28 days of intravenous antibiotic compared with placebo in 55 patients reporting persistent, severe fatigue at least 6 months following treatment for laboratory-diagnosed Lyme disease. Patients were assessed for improvements in self-reported fatigue and cognitive function (Neurology 60: 1923-30, 2003).
In that study, people receiving antibiotics did report a greater improvement in fatigue than those on placebo. However, no benefit to cognitive function was observed. In addition, six of the study participants had serious adverse events associated with intravenous antibiotic use, and four patients required hospitalization. Overall, the study authors concluded that additional antibiotic therapy for PLDS was not supported by the evidence.
More recently, a study supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), also a part of the National Institutes of Health, again showed that long-term antibiotic use for Lyme disease is not an effective strategy for cognitive improvement (Neurology 70(13): 992-1003, 2008). Researchers compared clinical improvement following 10 weeks of intravenous ceftriaxone versus intravenous placebo. The patients were treated for Lyme disease and presented with objective memory impairment tests. In a complicated statistical model, the ceftriaxone group showed a slightly greater improvement at 12 weeks, but at 24 weeks, both the ceftriaxone and the placebo groups had improved similarly from baseline. In addition, adverse effects attributed to intravenous ceftriaxone occurred in 26 percent of patients. The authors concluded that because of the limited duration of the cognitive improvement and the risks involved, 10 weeks of intravenous ceftriaxone was not an effective strategy for cognitive improvement in these patients, and more durable and safer treatment strategies are still needed.
- The people are ill
- Long-term antibiotics do most certainly not cure
- Long-term antibiotics have dangers
- Diagnose is done through "a well-documented history of previous Lyme disease"