Lyme borreliosis is associated with memory deficits. While this may be related to cerebral infection by Borrelia bacteria, it may also be caused by concomitant co-infection by Babesia protozoa. The anti-malarial artemisinin-derivative artesunate has been shown to be effective against a number of Babesia species and to have efficacy against human cerebral malaria. We hypothesised that concomitant administration of artesunate in Lyme borreliosis patients would help alleviate the severity of self-reported short-term memory impairment. This hypothesis was tested in a small pilot study in which patients were treated with both an intravenous antibiotic and oral artesunate (20 mg four times per day); treatment was associated with a reduction in the severity of short-term memory difficulties (P ≃ 0.08). In light of these findings, we recommend that a formal randomised, placebo-controlled study be carried out.


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