Epidemiology and Infection

Short Report

Neuroborreliosis in the South West of England

J. K. LOVETTa1 c1, P. H. EVANSa2, S. O'CONNELLa1 and N. J. GUTOWSKIa3

a1 Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK

a2 Peninsula Medical School (Primary Care), Exeter, UK

a3 Peninsula Medical School and Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, UK


Although Lyme borreliosis is increasingly diagnosed in the United Kingdom, few systematic studies have been performed there. UK data suggest that the commonest complications are neurological, but inadequate information exists about their nature and the incidence of late neuroborreliosis. Local data are necessary because clinical presentations may show geographical variation. This study aimed to provide data on clinical manifestations in an area of South West England and to estimate treatment delay. We reviewed clinical records of 88 patients in the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital catchment area who had positive Borrelia antibody tests during a 5-year period. Fifty-six (64%) reported tick bites. The commonest presentations were erythema migrans (65%) and arthralgia/myalgia (27%). However, 22 patients (25%) had neurological symptoms other than headache alone. Fourteen had facial palsy, eight had confusion/drowsiness, four had meningism, five had radiculopathy, two had sixth nerve palsies, and two had peripheral neuropathies. No late, progressive or atypical neurological syndromes were found. Neurological manifestations were generally predictable and usually included either (or all) of meningoencephalitis, facial palsy or radiculopathy.

(Accepted February 06 2008)

(Online publication March 06 2008)


c1 Author for correspondence: Dr J. K. Lovett, MB ChB, DPhil, MRCP, Wessex Neurological Centre, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK. (Email: Joanna@jlovett.fsworld.co.uk)