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Lyme Rash Reappearance Probably Signals New Infection, Study Says
Date:11/15/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- If you've had Lyme disease in the past and you develop another bull's-eye rash -- the hallmark of Lyme disease -- you probably have a new infection rather than a relapse of your initial infection, according to a small new study.

One implication of the study might be that since people don't suffer relapses from Lyme infection, it's not necessary to treat them with long-term antibiotics as a preventive measure.

For people whose symptoms do recur, it's especially likely that it's from a new infection if the rash shows up in a different site than the initial infection. It's also especially likely to be a new infection if it occurs during the prime tick season, which is from late spring through the summer, the study authors said.

"When people take the relatively short course of antibiotics that are ... recommended by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the infection is likely to be cured," said the study's lead author, Dr. Robert Nadelman, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y.

"But be aware that if you live, work or do recreation in an area with ticks, you can get tick bites again, and you can get Lyme again," he added. "If you see a tick on you, remove it promptly; take precautionary steps to try to avoid getting ticks on you."

Results of the study are published in the Nov. 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The bull's-eye rash (called erythema migrans) that is usually the first clue that someone has been infected with Lyme disease generally disappears after treatment, according to study background information. But the rash comes back in about 15 percent of people who have had Lyme. Currently available tests can't differentiate between a new infection or a recurrent one. This can lead people to believe that they have a l
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