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Journal: Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland)


Lyme disease is a tickborne illness that generates controversy among medical providers and researchers. One of the key topics of debate is the existence of persistent infection with the Lyme spirochete, Borreliaburgdorferi, in patients who have been treated with recommended doses of antibiotics yet remain symptomatic. Persistent spirochetal infection despite antibiotic therapy has recently been demonstrated in non-human primates. We present evidence of persistent Borrelia infection despite antibiotic therapy in patients with ongoing Lyme disease symptoms.

Concepts: Medicine, Bacteria, Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia, Spirochaetes, Spirochaete, Tick-borne disease


The importance of how disease and illness are conceptualised lies in the fact that such definition is paramount to understand the boundaries and scope of responsibility associated with medical work. In this paper, we aim to provide an overview of the interplay of these understandings in shaping the nature of medical work, philosophically, and in practice. We first discuss the emergence of the biopsychosocial model as an attempt to both challenge and broaden the traditional biomedical model. Then, we outline the main criticisms associated with the biopsychosocial model and note a range of contributions addressing the shortcomings of the model as initially formulated. Despite recurrent criticisms and uneven uptake, the biopsychosocial model has gone on to influence core aspects of medical practice, education, and research across many areas of medicine. One of these areas is adolescent medicine, which provides a particularly good exemplar to examine the contemporary challenges associated with the practical application of the biopsychosocial model. We conclude that a more optimal use of existing bodies of evidence, bringing together evidence-based methodological advances of the biopsychosocial model and existing evidence on the psychosocial needs associated with specific conditions/populations, can help to bridge the gap between philosophy and practice.

Concepts: Medicine, Disease, Avicenna, Philosophy of science, Psychiatry, Biopsychosocial model, Biomedical model, Medical models


Background: Blacks' diminished return is defined as smaller protective effects of socioeconomic status (SES) on health of African Americans compared to Whites.

Concepts: Medicine, Black people, Race, White American, Southern United States, Barack Obama, Puerto Rico, Hip hop music


Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria borrelia burgdorferi and is spread primarily through the bite of a tick. There is considerable uncertainty in the medical community regarding the best approach to treating patients with Lyme disease who do not respond fully to short-term antibiotic therapy. These patients have persistent Lyme disease symptoms resulting from lack of treatment, under-treatment, or lack of response to their antibiotic treatment protocol. In the past, treatment trials have used small restrictive samples and relied on average treatment effects as their measure of success and produced conflicting results. To provide individualized care, clinicians need information that reflects their patient population. Today, we have the ability to analyze large data bases, including patient registries, that reflect the broader range of patients more typically seen in clinical practice. This allows us to examine treatment variation within the sample and identify groups of patients that are most responsive to treatment. Using patient-reported outcome data from the MyLymeData online patient registry, we show that sub-group analysis techniques can unmask valuable information that is hidden if averages alone are used. In our analysis, this approach revealed treatment effectiveness for up to a third of patients with Lyme disease. This study is important because it can help open the door to more individualized patient care using patient-centered outcomes and real-world evidence.


1 million people are predicted to get infected with Lyme disease in the USA in 2018. Given the same incidence rate of Lyme disease in Europe as in the USA, then 2.4 million people will get infected with Lyme disease in Europe in 2018. In the USA by 2050, 55.7 million people (12% of the population) will have been infected with Lyme disease. In Europe by 2050, 134.9 million people (17% of the population) will have been infected with Lyme disease. Most of these infections will, unfortunately, become chronic. The estimated treatment cost for acute and chronic Lyme disease for 2018 for the USA is somewhere between 4.8 billion USD and 9.6 billion USD and for Europe somewhere between 10.1 billion EUR and 20.1 billion EUR. If governments do not finance IV treatment with antibiotics for chronic Lyme disease, then the estimated government cost for chronic Lyme disease for 2018 for the USA is 10.1 billion USD and in Europe 20.1 billion EUR. If governments in the USA and Europe want to minimize future costs and maximize future revenues, then they should pay for IV antibiotic treatment up to a year even if the estimated cure rate is as low as 25%. The cost for governments of having chronic Lyme patients sick in perpetuity is very large.

Concepts: Medicine, Bacteria, Infection, United States, Million, Lyme disease, Antibiotic, Names of large numbers


Many people with severe Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) commonly receive no care from healthcare professionals, while some have become distanced from all statutory medical services. Paradoxically, it is often the most seriously ill and needy who are the most neglected by those responsible for their healthcare. Reasons for this include tensions around the complexity of making an accurate diagnosis in the absence of a biomarker, the bitter debate about the effectiveness of the few available treatments, and the very real stigma associated with the diagnosis. Illness severity often precludes attendance at healthcare facilities, and if an individual is well enough to be able to attend an appointment, the presentation will not be typical; by definition, patients who are severely affected are home-bound and often confined to bed. We argue that a holistic model, such as “Compassion in Practice”, can help with planning appointments and caring for people severely affected by ME/CFS. We show how this can be used to frame meaningful interactions between the healthcare practitioners (HCPs) and the homebound patient.


In a study of 429 adults with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), we demonstrated that 86% had symptoms of orthostatic intolerance in daily life. Using extracranial Doppler measurements of the internal carotid and vertebral arteries during a 30-min head-up tilt to 70 degrees, 90% had an abnormal reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF). A standard head-up tilt test of this duration might not be tolerated by the most severely affected bed-ridden ME/CFS patients. This study examined whether a shorter 15-min test at a lower 20 degree tilt angle would be sufficient to provoke reductions in cerebral blood flow in severe ME/CFS patients.


There is increasing evidence and recognition that Lyme borreliosis (LB) causes mental symptoms. This article draws from databases, search engines and clinical experience to review current information on LB. LB causes immune and metabolic effects that result in a gradually developing spectrum of neuropsychiatric symptoms, usually presenting with significant comorbidity which may include developmental disorders, autism spectrum disorders, schizoaffective disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders (panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, intrusive symptoms), eating disorders, decreased libido, sleep disorders, addiction, opioid addiction, cognitive impairments, dementia, seizure disorders, suicide, violence, anhedonia, depersonalization, dissociative episodes, derealization and other impairments. Screening assessment followed by a thorough history, comprehensive psychiatric clinical exam, review of systems, mental status exam, neurological exam and physical exam relevant to the patient’s complaints and findings with clinical judgment, pattern recognition and knowledgeable interpretation of laboratory findings facilitates diagnosis. Psychotropics and antibiotics may help improve functioning and prevent further disease progression. Awareness of the association between LB and neuropsychiatric impairments and studies of their prevalence in neuropsychiatric conditions can improve understanding of the causes of mental illness and violence and result in more effective prevention, diagnosis and treatment.


Lyme disease arises from infection with pathogenic Borrelia species. In Canada, current case definition for confirmed Lyme disease requires serological confirmation by both a positive first tier ELISA and confirmatory second tier immunoblot (western blot). For surveillance and research initiatives, this requirement is intentionally conservative to exclude false positive results. Consequently, this approach is prone to false negative results that lead to underestimation of the number of people with Lyme disease. The province of New Brunswick (NB), Canada, can be used to quantify under-detection of the disease as three independent data sets are available to generate an estimate of the true human disease prevalence and incidence. First, detailed human disease incidence is available for the US states and counties bordering Canada, which can be compared with Canadian disease incidence. Second, published national serology results and well-described sensitivity and specificity values for these tests are available and deductive reasoning can be used to query for discrepancies. Third, high-density tick and canine surveillance data are available for the province, which can be used to predict expected human Lyme prevalence. Comparison of cross-border disease incidence suggests a minimum of 10.2 to 28-fold under-detection of Lyme disease (3.6% to 9.8% cases detected). Analysis of serological testing predicts the surveillance criteria generate 10.4-fold under-diagnosis (9.6% cases detected) in New Brunswick for 2014 due to serology alone. Calculation of expected human Lyme disease cases based on tick and canine infections in New Brunswick indicates a minimum of 12.1 to 58.2-fold underestimation (1.7% to 8.3% cases detected). All of these considerations apply generally across the country and strongly suggest that public health information is significantly under-detecting and under-reporting human Lyme cases across Canada. Causes of the discrepancies between reported cases and predicted actual cases may include undetected genetic diversity of Borrelia in Canada leading to failed serological detection of infection, failure to consider and initiate serological testing of patients, and failure to report clinically diagnosed acute cases. As these surveillance criteria are used to inform clinical and public health decisions, this under-detection will impact diagnosis and treatment of Canadian Lyme disease patients.


Various dietary approaches with different caloric content and macronutrient composition have been recommended to treat obesity in adults. Although their safety and efficacy profile has been assessed in numerous randomized clinical trials, reviews and meta-analyses, the characteristics of the optimal dietary weight loss strategy remain controversial. This mini-review will provide general principles and practical recommendations for the dietary management of obesity and will further explore the components of the optimal dietary intervention. To this end, various dietary plans are critically discussed, including low-fat diets, low-carbohydrate diets, high-protein diets, very low-calorie diets with meal replacements, Mediterranean diet, and diets with intermittent energy restriction. As a general principle, the optimal diet to treat obesity should be safe, efficacious, healthy and nutritionally adequate, culturally acceptable and economically affordable, and should ensure long-term compliance and maintenance of weight loss. Setting realistic goals for weight loss and pursuing a balanced dietary plan tailored to individual needs, preferences, and medical conditions, are the key principles to facilitate weight loss in obese patients and most importantly reduce their overall cardiometabolic risk and other obesity-related comorbidities.