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Spring/Summer 1983

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2008 - Spring


Yale Medicine

Mystery of Lyme Disease a Step Closer to Being Solved

“Scientists at the School of Medicine have isolated for the first time a newly recognized spirochete from the blood, skin or cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Lyme disease. ‘The recovery of this organism from patients provides important evidence that the I. dammini spirochete is the causative agent of Lyme disease,’ according to Dr. Allen C. Steere, principal investigator of the research.

“… The new finding has implications for better diagnosis and treatment of the illness, and may help in the understanding of some other immune-mediated diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

“Lyme disease, first recognized in 1975 by Yale medical scientists including Dr. Steere and Dr. Stephen E. Malawista, professor of medicine and head of the Section of Rheumatology, has affected hundreds of people along the Atlantic coast and in some mid- and far-western states. It typically begins in summer with a unique skin lesion, erythema chronicum migrans (ECM), which sometimes expands to a diameter of five inches or more, and may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms. …

“The first clue that Lyme disease was caused by an infectious agent was the fact that several children with typical symptoms lived in the same neighborhood in Lyme, Connecticut. …”

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