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Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1994 Nov;33(11):663-8.

The overdiagnosis of Lyme disease in children residing in an endemic area.

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Division of Rheumatology, Alfred I. duPont Institute, Wilmington, Delaware 19899.


The medical records of 227 children ages 1 to 19 years referred to the Lyme disease pediatric clinic over a 32-month period since May 1990 were reviewed. Clinico-serologic criteria for a positive diagnosis were applied. One hundred thirty-eight of 227 referred children did not fulfill those criteria and became the study population. Four subsets of patients emerged: (1) 54 patients with predominantly subjective symptoms; (2) 52 patients with objective evidence for an alternative diagnosis; (3) eight patients who had documented infection in the past and continued with symptoms after antibiotic treatment; and (4) 24 patients with a history of tick attachment or prenatal/family history of Lyme disease. Serologic testing data from commercial laboratories were available for the 54 children from the "predominantly subjective" group; 50% were negative, and 50% were borderline or positive. Ninety-two percent of these patients were negative at retesting by our enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and 100% were negative by Western blot. Fifty-seven percent of these patients had received treatment prior to our evaluation. Children residing in an endemic area who present with vague symptoms are being diagnosed with and treated for Lyme disease without clinical or serologic documentation. In addition, fear in the lay community may be inducing doctors to diagnose Lyme disease in patients with symptoms that may be suggestive of an alternative diagnosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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