NYMC Faculty Publications

A Prospective Study to Characterize Symptoms and Symptom Severity in Adult Patients With Extracutaneous Manifestations of Lyme Disease

Author Type(s)


Journal Title

The American Journal of Medicine

First Page


Last Page


Document Type


Publication Date





BACKGROUND: Systematic assessments of the presence and severity of particular symptoms over time are relatively uncommon for Lyme disease patients in the United States, and especially for Lyme disease patients with extracutaneous manifestations (ECLD). METHODS: Symptoms and symptom severity of 12 particular symptoms were evaluated in a prospective study at baseline and at 12 months for 35 adult Lyme disease patients with ECLD, 91.4% of whom were already started on antibiotic therapy, and compared with 52 adult Lyme disease patients with erythema migrans, who were untreated at study entry. RESULTS: No significant difference in the frequency of having at least 1 symptom of the 12 evaluated was found between the 2 groups at either the baseline visit or the 12-month evaluation. Demographic variables were also similar between the 2 study groups, except that the ECLD patients were significantly less likely to be Caucasian: 24/35 (68.6%) of the ECLD cases vs 48/52 (92.3%) of the erythema migrans cases; P = .008. CONCLUSION: Lyme disease patients with ECLD had a similar frequency of symptoms at baseline compared with patients with erythema migrans. ECLD subjects, however, were significantly less likely to be Caucasian, raising the question of whether a preceding erythema migrans skin lesion may have been missed in persons with a darker skin color. An important limitation of our study, however, is that we did not record skin color per se, which should be considered for future studies.