Lyme Disease and MS Can Overlap

Canadian researchers found that a small percentage of MS patients tested positive for Lyme disease.

Lyme disease can cause neurological symptoms, some of which overlap with clinical and radiological findings in multiple sclerosis.

Reporting at the ACTRIMS Forum in New Orleans, LA, Peggy Cook of Saint John Regional Hospital in New Brunswick, Canada and colleagues set out to see how many of the region’s MS patients had Lyme disease.

Since serological testing for Lyme is problematic in that Borrelia species and strains are regionally specific and have different neurotropism they performed a single-center epidemiological study.

The tested for Borrelia using a both a C6 ELISA and Western Blot test in both the MS patients and a healthy control group.

The MS patients were 90 people, mean age 51, of whom 73% were women. Overall, 21 of the 90 patients reported tick exposure. Lyme is spread in Atlantic Canada by ticks called lxodes scapularis, or black-legged ticks.

Of the 90 patients, 7.8% were positive for Lyme.

“Among this MS cohort in Atlantic Canada, a low percentage of patients had a reactive Lyme EIA and all Western blots were negative,” the team concluded.