The following text serves as a starting point.
John H. J. Wokke, Jan A. L. Vanneste
Practical Neurology, 2004, 4, 152–161
THE DISCOVERY OF A ‘NEW’ DISEASE
Neuroborreliosis is part of the spectrum of Lyme disease which was first described about a quarter of a century ago, although it existed long before that. For example, in 1909 the Swedish dermatologist Afzelius incriminated ticks as the potential vectors of an agent causing erythema migrans (Burgdorfer 1986) and DNA of the causative agent Borrelia burgdorferi has been demonstrated in archival tick specimens collected in New England in the 1940s (Persing et al . 1990).
In 1922 Garin and Bujadoux described a French peasant with erythema migrans on the left buttock (Garin & Bujaudoux 1922). He had shooting pains in his legs, trunk and one arm, and developed increasing weakness and atrophy of the right deltoid muscle. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) protein was raised, and there was a pleocytosis. The authors labelled the disease ‘tick paralysis’ and suggested an unknown infection transmitted by a sheep tick. As the patient had erythema migrans, which is pathognomonic for infection with B. burgdorferi (Berger 1984), this in retrospect must have been the first description of a patient with neuroborreliosis. Two decades later, the German physician Alfred Bannwarth described a series of similar patients with painful polyneuritis following tick bite (Bannwarth 1941). Many also had a facial palsy. Following similar reports in other European countries, the syndrome was called lymphocytic meningoradiculitis following tick bite (Garin-Bujadoux-Bannwarth, or Bannwarth’s syndrome). Because a tick-borne infection was suspected, some patients were empirically treated with penicillin and rapidly recovered.
Then, in the late 1970s, a tick-borne disease was diagnosed in children in Lyme, Connecticut. The first manifestation of what at first was thought to be a novel disease, named Lyme disease, was erythema around the tick bite. In some patients disseminated infection evolved within days or weeks, affecting the nervous system, heart or joints (Steere 2001). The neurological features were unilateral or bilateral facial palsy, sometimes accompanied by headache as a sign of mild meningitis, and features of a motor or sensory radiculoneuropathy. The CSF showed a mild lymphocytic pleocytosis. By elegant analyses of the intestines of ticks that were recovered from skin and arthritic lesions, and antibody testing, Dr Willy Burgdorfer and colleagues showed that a Borrelia species was responsible for the infection (Burgdorfer et al . 1982). Diagnostic tests were then developed and a few years later antibodies against B. burgdorferi were demonstrated in European patients with Bannwarth’s syndrome.
edit: emphasised two more lines.