NYMC Faculty Publications

Characteristics of Spirochetemic Patients with a Solitary Erythema Migrans Skin Lesion in Europe

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PLoS One

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Neither pre-treatment characteristics, nor the outcome after antibiotic therapy, have been reported for spirochetemic European patients with Lyme borreliosis. In the present study, patients with a solitary erythema migrans (EM) who had a positive blood culture for either Borrelia afzelii (n = 116) or Borrelia garinii (n = 37) were compared with age- and sex-matched patients who had a negative blood culture, but were culture positive for the corresponding Borrelia species from skin. Collectively, spirochetemic patients significantly more often recalled a tick bite at the site of the EM skin lesion, had a shorter time interval from the bite to the onset of EM, had a shorter duration of the skin lesion prior to diagnosis, and had a smaller EM skin lesion that was more often homogeneous in appearance. Similar results were found for the subset of spirochetemic patients infected with B. afzelii but not for those infected with B. garinii. However, patients with B. garinii bacteremia had faster-spreading and larger EM skin lesions, and more often reported itching at the site of the lesion than patients with B. afzelii bacteremia. Treatment failures were rare (7/306 patients, 2.3%) and were not associated with having spirochetemia or with which Borrelia species was causing the infection.