Interview with Prof. Ying Zhang at the NorVect Conference 2015

Prof Ying Zhang from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explains why Lyme disease is so difficult to treat. Having worked with Tuberculosis (TB) for many years, he sees the similarities and differences between these to bacteria. With Tuberculosis it is known that you have to treat with certain drug combinations that kill the growing form and the non-growing form (persisters) and if you treat shorter than 6 months, the patient will get a relapse.

The bacterium that causes Lyme disease is much more advanced than the TB bacterium, and the main reason is that it also takes a persisting form. These persister forms of the Borrelia bacteria cannot be cultured.

The two views – ILADS and IDSA are two different ways of seeing the same disease. Prof. Zhang thinks they are both right. When it comes to acute Lyme disease, IDSA is right. Then you only need shorter courses of treatment. When the disease turns chronic, longer courses of treatment with the right drug combinations are needed (ILADS view).