Typically these cases never hit the news.
More, and more we are hearing news reports of people who have no idea that they are carrying infectious Lyme disease, perhaps ignoring subtle symptoms of fatigue or joint pain that resolves itself until a life threatening event sends the victim to a hospital emergency room.
Many ER doctors would not have looked for Lyme, but the doctors in Switzerland (Dr. Arseny Sokolov , amongst others, in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, Switzerland) looked at a sixteen year old girl with classic stroke symptoms and dug deeper to find a believable cause. A stroke in a sixteen year old is rare, but these doctors were really on the ball.
In fact, they immediately published this surprising event in the Annals of Emergency Medicine to help other doctors consider Lyme disease in strange cases such as this.
Taken from the press release:
“Everything about her symptoms indicated stroke: speech deficits, poor comprehension and right-sided face and arm weakness, so we considered treating her with clot-busting drugs” said lead study author Arseny Sokolov, MD, of the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, Switzerland. “But a 16 year-old having a stroke, while not unheard of, would be quite rare so we looked at other possibilities and found Lyme.”
Brain imaging was not suggestive of stroke either, but revealed circumscribed brain dysfunction. The treatment team performed a spinal tap. The patient’s spinal fluid showed elevated white blood cell counts and Lyme neuroborreliosis was diagnosed, so the treatment team began a course of antibacterial and antiviral agents. The patient improved immediately after treatment began.
“The imaging findings for the first time demonstrate acute brain dysfunction that appears to be directly related to neuroborreliosis” said senior co-author Renaud Du Pasquier, MD, neurology chairman at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne. “It may point out future perspectives for research on the underlying mechanisms.”
Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, and is known as “the great imitator,” as its symptoms can mimic so many other diseases. Many patients have Lyme for a long time before a proper diagnosis is rendered. When that happens, serious long-term complications are the result.
“The uncommon set of symptoms our patient had show why Lyme is a ‘chameleon disease’ of the emergency department,” said Dr. Sokolov. “Furthermore, the patient had no history of tick bite. This curious case just shows the careful detective work that is involved in such a large portion of emergency medicine.”
Annals of Emergency Medicine is the peer-reviewed scientific journal for the American College of Emergency Physicians, the national medical society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research, and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies. For more information, visit www.acep.org.
Coming on the heels of the heart attack victims last year (see http://lymediseaseresource.com/wordpress/people-are-dying-from-lyme-who-dont-know-they-have-it/) it is only natural to question how many haert attack victime, stroke victime and others die in the hospital from Lyme disease without ever knowing that is the cause.
In a study back in 1998, there were 3 people with aneurysms in Turkey who were tested and the cause found to be Borreliosis (Lyme disease) see The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, and many other references to people with chronic headaches, and air hunger, heart carditis – all due to an unknown infection of Lyme.
It makes you wonder how many people are walking around with the infection without even knowing they are sick.
Unfortunately, the longer you have Lyme disease, the longer it takes to get rid of it.
Thankfully there is now a reliable test in the US at Advanced Lab Services for diagnosing Lyme disease.
http://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(15)00028-1/abstract. Accessed March 4, 2015.
Intracranial aneurysms in three patients with disseminated Lyme borreliosis: cause or chance association?. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. 1998;64(5):636.