New research shows that the bacterium that causes Lyme disease forms dormant persister cells. These cells are known to evade antibiotics, and may explain why Lyme disease is so difficult to treat in some patients. If caught early, patients treated with antibiotics usually recover quickly. But about 10 to 20 percent of patients, mostly those who have been diagnosed and treated with antibiotics after the disease is well established, continue to have persistent and recurring symptoms after treatment.
Lyme disease affects 300,000 people annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.