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Lyme Disease Misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis

The following articles compiled by LymeInfo provide information about Lyme disease being misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis. The differential diagnosis can be tricky, as Lyme tests can be falsely negative. Disseminated Lyme disease is also very complicated to treat. Therefore, it is important for those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis to be thoroughly evaluated by a physician skilled at diagnosing Lyme disease. After reviewing the below articles, please browse around the Lyme Info website to learn more about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Be sure to visit our Lyme Disease Diagnosis & Treatment page. The list below is merely an introduction and does not cover all articles on this topic.

Medical Abstracts:

Lyme borreliosis and multiple sclerosis are associated with primary effusion lymphoma. (2007)
"In the late period of Lyme disease demyelinating involvement of central nervous system can develop and MS can be erroneously diagnosed."
Chronic Lyme borreliosis at the root of multiple sclerosis - is a cure with antibiotics attainable? (2005)
"As minocycline, tinidazole and hydroxychloroquine are reportedly capable of destroying both the spirochaetal and cystic L-form of B. burgdorferi found in MS brains, there emerges also new hope for those already afflicted."
Isolated monolateral neurosensory hearing loss as a rare sign of neuroborreliosis. (2004)
"Encephalopathy with white matter lesions revealed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in late, persistent stages of Lyme disease has been described. In this report, we describe a patient with few clinical manifestations involving exclusively the eighth cranial nerve, monolaterally and diffuse bilateral alterations of the white matter, particularly in the subcortical periventricular regions at cerebral MRI."
Bacterial infection as a cause of multiple sclerosis. (2002)
"Infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the spirochaete responsible for Lyme disease, can involve the central nervous system and the later stages of the disease may mimic the clinical symptoms of multiple sclerosis."
Association between multiple sclerosis and cystic structures in cerebrospinal fluid. (2001)
"Therefore, we have both microbiological and some clinical support for the hypothesis that the cystic structures found in the CSF of the MS patients may originate from spirochetes which could be the causative agents of MS."
Differential diagnosis of posterior fossa multiple sclerosis lesions--neuroradiological aspects. (2001)
"Behcet's disease, Lyme disease, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, neurosarcoidosis, Whipple's disease, listeria rhombencephalitis, Bickerstaff's brainstem encephalitis, vasculitis due to systemic lupus erythematosus, and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis produce inflammatory lesions similar to those of MS in the brainstem and cerebellum."
Lyme borreliosis and multiple sclerosis: any connection? A seroepidemic study. (2000)
"The result suggests that multiple sclerosis may be often associated with Borrelia infection."
Multiple sclerosis vs Lyme disease: a case presentation to a discussant and a review of the literature.(1999)
Read the first page here.
Inflammatory brain changes in Lyme borreliosis. A report on three patients and review of literature. (1996)
"We conclude that cerebral lymphocytic vasculitis and multifocal encephalitis may be associated with B. burgdorferi infection."
The presence of anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies in a group of multiple sclerosis patients in eastern Sicily. Preliminary data. (1993)
"The authors evaluate the presence of anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies in a group of polysclerotic patients of Eastern Sicily, in order to verify or dismiss a correlation between Borrelia infection and demyelinizing syndrome."
Diseases that mimic multiple sclerosis. (1991)
"Dr Scott compares typical findings of multiple sclerosis with those of the four diseases that are sometimes mistaken for this syndrome."
Multiple sclerosis or Lyme disease? a diagnosis problem of exclusion. (1990)
"In a late period of the disease demyelinating involvement of central nervous system can develop, and multiple sclerosis can be erroneously diagnosed."
Neurologic manifestations of Lyme disease, the new "great imitator". (1989)
"Third-stage parenchymal involvement causes a multitude of nonspecific CNS manifestations that can be confused with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, and psychiatric derangements."
Clinical manifestations of Lyme disease in the United States. (1989)
Conn Med. 1989 Jun;53(6):327-30.
Clinical pathologic correlations of Lyme disease. (1989)
Rev Infect Dis. 1989 Sep-Oct;11 Suppl 6:S1487-93.
Chronic central nervous system involvement in Lyme borreliosis. (1988)
"We describe four patients with marked chronic meningoencephalomyelitis caused by tick-transmitted Borrelia burgdorferi infection. Imaging techniques showed either MS-like lesions or evidence of vascular involvement, as in other spirochetal infections, especially in meningovascular syphilis."
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic central nervous system infection by a spirochetal agent. (1988)
"Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic central nervous system (CNS) infection similar to Lyme Disease or Neurosyphilis in its latency period, pathogenesis, symptoms, histopathology and chronic CNS involvement."
Demyelinating encephalopathy in Lyme disease. (1985)
"A 38-year-old man from southeastern Connecticut developed a diffuse encephalopathy with partial complex seizures, followed weeks later by arthritis, cryoglobulinemia, and increased serum IgM. CT showed confluent low-density lesions in the deep cerebral white matter consistent with demyelination. Neither the encephalopathy nor the CT abnormalities improved. Lyme disease was diagnosed serologically 4 years later."


Lyme Borreliosis and Related Disorders
by Liegner
11th International Scientific Conference on Lyme Disease and Other Spirochetal & Tick-Borne Disorders, 1998
Subtle Injury to Transformed Neural Cell Lines by Bb
by Benach
10th Annual International Scientific Conference on Lyme Disease & Other Tick-Borne Disorders, 1997
Spectrum of Antibiotic-Responsive Meningoencephalomyelitides
by Liegner
8th Annual LDF International Scientific Conference on Lyme Borreliosis and other Spirochetal and Tick-borne Diseases, 1995

Patient Stories:

Multiple Sclerosis & Lyme Blog
"I was content with the Multiple Sclerosis, and the routine that I had gotten into; both with the treatments and understanding the disease. Now I am thrown into something that I do not understand all that well. Furthermore, I am having a difficult time finding a doctor that is skilled in treating Lyme, especially now that I have long entered chronic/3rd stage Lyme (and all those doses of Solu-medrol only made things worse)."
Doctors can misdiagnose Lyme disease for MS, April 2010
"In a recent thesis, Winnipeg researcher Kathleen Crang found that some Manitobans diagnosed with MS and other chronic conditions may actually be suffering from the borrelia bacteria, a tick-borne 'biological evil genius' that causes Lyme disease."
Lyme disease sufferer spent years being misdiagnosed
"One neurologist told her she had multiple sclerosis. It's common, she says, for people with Lyme disease to be misdiagnosed as having multiple sclerosis, lupus, arthritis, or other illnesses with similar symptoms."
Patients, doctors debate Lyme
"Plagued witt unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, eye pain and other problems for years, Tierney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year." (Free registration to LymeInfo required.)
Not Giving Up, The Corning Leader, December 2004 (expired link)
"Until January, Heininger lived for 20 years believing that multiple sclerosis was the cause of her growing disability. She is one of an increasing number of people who are learning that Lyme is a "disease in disguise," according to an Aug. 23 Newsweek article."
Lyme disease can get very severe without antibiotics, The Daily Review, September 2002
"Probably 10 percent of multiple sclerosis cases are actually Lyme's," Stricker said. "There's really not a lot of expertise in this area, sadly. It's really amazing how many patients will come in and say their doctor says Lyme disease doesn't happen here." (Free registration to LymeInfo required.)
Beyond Lyme disease's symptoms lies the truth, The Star-Ledger, May 2002
"She tested positive for Lyme but no one, she said, would treat her. Brain abnormalities showed up on an MRI and doctors told her she had multiple sclerosis." (Free registration to LymeInfo required.)
A Guide to Multiple Sclerosis, Wichita Eagle, March 2005 (expired link)
"Recent reports suggest that the neurological problems associated with Lyme disease may present a clinical picture much like MS."


Research by Gabriel Steiner on spirochetes and MS.
"In this respect the discovered spirochetes were totally different from the treponema-type and resembled the borrelia-type of spirochetes."
Systemic Intracellular Bacterial Infections
Article addresses Mycoplasma, Chlamydia, Borrelia species in Neurodegenerative (Multiple Sclerosis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Alzheimer's) and Behavioral (Autistic Spectrum Disorders) Diseases. Excerpt: "When these infections are released from cells, they contain host cell antigens in their exterior membranes, and these normal cell membrane antigens could stimulate autoimmune responses. Alternatively, the microorganisms may express antigens that mimic normal surface antigens." (Published April 2008)
Multiple Sclerosis Patients Should Be Tested for Lyme Disease
"Because both Multiple Sclerosis and Lyme Disease are diseases of the central nervous system, they both manifest themselves in ways that are different person to person."
Book: Multiple Sclerosis Through History and Human Life
Covers history of spirochete research as a cause of MS.
Editorial on MS & Lyme
"Some interesting correlations as most M.S./ Lyme patients are well aware of, are such things as: M.S. occurs mostly in temperate climates in the same latitudes where the Ixodes ticks that carry Lyme disease thrive. M.S. often seems to be clustered in areas where Lyme is frequent, M.S. often manifests in young adults most active and exposed to tick infested areas. In every Lyme Support Group I ever attended there was always at least one patient or more who had been misdiagnosed with M.S."
Video: Chronic Lyme Disease: Connection to MS- Facts behind the controversy
This lecture was recorded at the Lyme Symposium held at the University of New Haven on May 12, 2006.
Art's Lyme Misdiagnosed As...
Provides a comprehensive listing of abstracts about Lyme disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
ILADS Basic Information
"Lyme disease is the latest great imitator and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of MS, ALS, seizure and other neurologic conditions, as well as arthritis, CFS, Gulf war syndrome, ADHD, hypochondriasis, fibromyalgia, somatization disorder and patients with various difficult-to-diagnose multi-system syndromes."
Lyme/MS Journal References
"I am posting the listing of research I have accummulated on the net so that more people will have access to information re: Lyme and MS having the same etiology perhaps and providing hands-on info for those whose interest lies in thise area so that they may access this list for future use."
When to Suspect Lyme
"Many patients are told that they have Multiple Sclerosis (MS) because of brain MRI findings or a spinal tap was positive for oligoclonal bands (OCB) or myelin basic protein (MBP). The medical literature is quite emphatic that MRI does not reliably distinguish between MS an LD because there is too much overlap in their supposedly distinct appearance and location of plaques. Plaques have been detected with both disorders in the brain and spinal cord. OCB's and MBP are non-specific markers for demyelination (loss of sheath around nerves) and do not signify a cause of the demyelination."
Case 59 - White Matter Lesions
"This 22 year old male college student from western Pennsylvania was seen by a neurologist in late 1994 with a 3 1/2 year history of vague complaints of lower extremity numbness and new onset right arm/hand weakness. A Lyme titer was strongly positive and confirmed by Western blot in the spring of 1995."
Spirochaeta Myelophthora in Multiple Sclerosis
Cell Wall Deficient Forms: Stealth Pathogens Research Summary.
Lyme Disease and Multiple Sclerosis
"Until I have testing done at labs that specialize only in tick disease, I would be careful about rushing to a final diagnosis."
Antibiotic may be a potential therapy for MS
"A common antibiotic, long used to treat infections in humans, may have potential as a treatment for multiple sclerosis."
New Ideas About the Cause, Spread and Therapy of Lyme Disease
"Dr. Mattman has subsequently recovered Bb spirochetes form 8 out of 8 cases of Parkinson's Disease, 41 cases of multiple sclerosis, 21 cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and all tested cases of Alzheimer's Disease."
Neurologic Lyme Disease
"Patients with new onset Bb infection may develop an acute CNS demyelinated disease that looks much like multiple sclerosis."

Multiple Sclerosis Sites:

Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis
"We believe to develop a cure, the causes of the disease first need to be identified. We are driving this process through a logical and systematic plan called the Cure Map. The Cure Map looks at the five possible causes of any known disease: genetics, toxic agents, pathogens, trauma, and nutrition. It identifies and outlines what existing research has already uncovered in each of those areas, and identifies what remains to be researched."
Friends with MS
"Friends with MS is an online interactive support group for people with MS, those not yet diagnosed and those who love them. Our mission is to end the isolation that people feel when faced with a chronic illness, Multiple Sclerosis."
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
"The mission of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is to end the devastating effects of MS."
All About Multiple Sclerosis
"All About Multiple Sclerosis aims to provide accurate and comprehensive medical information about multiple sclerosis (MS) written in plain English by people living with the disease and its symptoms."