Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About Lyme Disease Tests
At-home test kits for Lyme disease are available. To do these tests, you usually collect a drop of blood from your finger and send it to a lab for testing. If you want to do an at-home test, it’s important to talk with your provider first. Some at-home tests may use lab methods that aren’t proven to work, so your results may not be accurate.
Information On Submitting Ticks
Whomay submit a tick?
Ticks will be accepted only from residents ofConnecticut. Ticks should be submitted by residents to their municipal healthdepartments. The health departments will then submit ticks to us with a requestfor identification and/or testing for the causative agents for Lyme disease,anaplasmosis, and babesiosis.
Howto locate your local health department or district:
Contact information for your local healthdepartments can be found online at:CT Department ofPublic Health
Howmuch do you charge to test a tick?
Ticktesting is offered by The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station as apublic service and there is no fee for tick identification and/or testing. Municipalities or local health departments/districts may charge a nominalfee for handling and mailing.
Whatinformation should be submitted with the tick?
The CAES Tick Submission Form should be completelyfilled out and packaged along with your tick. Please read the entire formcarefully to ensure you are providing the proper information. Please leave anote if you are submitting more than one tick with a single submission form.
The form can be filled out and printed in your internet browser and isavailable here:
Howshould ticks be prepared for sending?
Preparing the tick:
Preparing the envelope:
Whereshould tick samples be sent?
If you are unable to send the tick through yourlocal health department, please submit samples directly to:
Do all ticks submitted get tested for Lyme disease?
What Is Lyme Disease And How Do You Treat It
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which is spread to people through the bite of infected black-legged ticks, also popularly known as deer ticks. Early symptoms include a typical enlarging red rash at the site of the tick bite. This is common, but not everyone with Lyme disease gets this rash. Other signs of Lyme include flu-like symptoms . If left untreated, over time the infection can lead to Bells palsy , meningitis , heart rhythm problems, and joint pain and swelling. Additional symptoms can include headaches and stiff neck, tingling and numbness , and rarely, inflammation of the eyes.
The diagnosis is usually based on a persons symptoms, the presence of the typical rash, and a history of likely exposure to infected ticks. Lab tests for Lyme disease do not turn positive until three to four weeks after the infection. Usually doctors do not wait for the results of these tests during the early stage of the disease, to begin treatment.
Once diagnosed, Lyme disease can be successfully treated with a few weeks of oral antibiotics. Doxycycline is the antibiotic prescribed to all but pregnant women and children, who usually get the antibiotics amoxicillin or cefuroxime. For people with severe heart or neurological symptoms of Lyme, intravenous antibiotics are usually necessary.
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Investigation Of Suspected Lyme Disease
Erythema migrans is a clinical diagnosis and does not require confirmation by laboratory testing. Lyme disease is not a notifiable disease so there is no statutory requirement to notify clinically suspected cases to the local Health Protection Team.
The 2018 NICE Lyme disease guideline provides detailed advice about when a diagnosis of Lyme disease should be suspected and about which tests to use and when.
The NICE Lyme disease guideline also contains a useful summary diagram of the routine serological testing recommendations for Lyme disease.
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Is This Test Right For Me
This test may be right for you if:
- You spent time in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent
- You have been in outdoor areas where ticks live
- You are experiencing symptoms such as rash, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
If you are experiencing heart or neurologic symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention.
This test may not be right for you if:
- The tick bite occurred within the past 2 to 3 weeks
- You are not experiencing symptoms
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What Testing Do We Offer
We offer three options for having your ticks tested. For each of these options, we will first identify the submitted tick, and ensure the testing is appropriate for that species. The three options are:
- Cost: $50.00 CAD
- Description: Ticks will be tested for the bacteria that cause Lyme diseaseand tick-borne relapsing fever. These bacteria include:
- General Borrelia
- Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto or Borrelia lonestari
- Borrelia miyamotoi .
- Common Infections
- Cost: $150.00 CAD
- Description: Ticks will be tested for the seven most common tick-borne pathogens found in their species.
- For black-legged ticks, these pathogens include:
- General Borrelia
Borrelia Species Pcr Results
Borrelia species DNA may occasionally be detected in the blood by PCR, but a negative PCR test is of no value in excluding localised Lyme disease.
The overall sensitivity of PCR on a skin biopsy of an EM or ACA rash is around 50% and is limited by the chance of a single biopsy hitting a site with a significant number of organisms.
In neurological Lyme disease involving the CNS, up to 10% of cases may be PCR positive on a CSF sample a negative PCR result does not exclude the diagnosis.
Synovial fluid may be positive by PCR in up to 50% of cases. A negative result does not exclude the diagnosis.
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Completion Of Lyme Disease Test Request Form
Diagnostic samples must be submitted with a completed RIPLLyme disease test request form . Please use a single request form for each patient even when sending several samples.
Please provide details of the sample type, patients symptoms and onset date, tick bite or exposure history and, if relevant, travel and treatment history. Symptom onset date is particularly important for interpretation of laboratory results.
When sending CSF, please provide the cell count and total albumin, IgG and IgM levels for the CSF and serum pair, if available.
Ideally the clinician who sees the patient should print out and complete the appropriate request form . Send the request to the local laboratory with the clinical sample along with a local laboratory request form, whether this is paper or electronic.
The local laboratory should complete the senders information on the request form and then forward the completed form and sample to RIPL. Before sending samples, clinicians are advised to liaise with their local laboratory because local arrangements may vary.
If only immunoblot confirmation is required because the local laboratory has already obtained a positive Lyme screening test result on the serum sample being submitted, tick the Line blot confirmation only box and write the positive screening test result below.
If You Find A Tick Along For The Ride Heres What You Need To Do
Use thin tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible. Pull the tick straight upward with steady even pressure to remove the tick with the mouthparts intact. Squeezing the tick will not increase the risk of infection. Adult ticks are a lot more difficult to remove intact. If the mouthparts break off, the chance of getting Lyme disease is the same as if you hadnt removed the tick at all. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. Watch for signs and symptoms of Lyme disease for up to 30 days.
See your doctor within 72 hours of the tick removal and if the tick removed was swollen. You may benefit from preventive antibiotics. This is especially important if you live in an area where deer ticks are common.
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How To Test For Lyme Disease Using A Tick
It can be difficult to prove Lyme disease with serologic tests. So, doctors took an unusual approach with the first in-human study to identify the infection with Xenodiagnosis. Using this methodology, uninfected larval ticks fed on 23 study participants. Two of them tested positive for B. burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease.
Xenodiagnosis was positive for B. burgdorferi DNA in a patient with erythema migrans early during therapy and in a patient with PTLDS , writes However, there wasnt enough evidence to conclude that viable spirochetes were present in either patient.
Researchers have allowed ticks to feed on animals while conducting animal studies. Xenodiagnosis has long been used in Lyme disease research to provide definitive evidence of a hosts infection status, explains Turk and colleagues in a recently published paper, Xenodiagnosis Using Ixodes scapularis Larval Ticks in Humans. But Marques endeavor was the first clinical study of the use of I. scapularis larva for the xenodiagnosis of B. burgdorferi infection in humans.
How to get a tick to bite a human for this test was described in the journal Methods of Molecular Biology. The larva ticks were uninfected. Specific pathogen-free I. scapularis larval ticks were obtained from Dr. Sam Telford from a laboratory-maintained tick colony at Tufts Veterinary School, Turk states.
Look How Far Ive Come
My initial Lyme test was, in the words of my doctor, lit up like a Christmas tree. Pretty much everything on it was positive: 2 different strains of Lyme, babesia, bartonella, and mycoplasma. I was a mess.
This summer I had a repeat test. Everything came back negative. While this doesnt mean Im definitively negative for Lyme, it certainly indicates weve been able to reduce the load enough that its not showing up on the tests. Ill likely need to continue some level of treatment for quite some time.
There are many Lyme specialist who dont believe its ever possible to be completely cured of Lyme. Its a sneaky bacteria and good at hiding. Many believe, the best you can get is to effectively put yourself in remission and strengthen your immune system. This keeps the Lyme bacterial load low enough that the symptoms are kept at bay.
Another fantastic result of treatment has been a huge decrease in inflammation. My c4a levels were 20,749 when I was first diagnosed. Thats a lot. . At the beginning of this year, after about a year of treatment, they were down at 17,594. This September, I was delighted to see my levels down to 4,090. Im inching closer to being back in the normal levels.
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The Most Common Lyme Disease Blood Tests
The two most common diagnostic tests for Lyme disease are the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and the Western blot. These Lyme disease tests allow physicians to visualize the reaction between antibodies in an infected persons blood to specific antigens or parts of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
In the case of the Western blot, for example, antigens are separated by size and then transferred onto a membrane strip. When an antibody reacts with an antigen on the strip, that band will turn dark purple. For test results to be positive, a specific combination of bands on the membrane strip must be present.
Approaching It Like An Engineer
So I returned to my engineering roots. Usually, when all seems lost, its time to step back and reanalyze the data. When Russ passed, I retired from my role as caregiver and returned to the discipline that always provided the answers I craved: science.
The first step was to cast a wide net and learn. Through a partnership with Lyme Warrior, I reached out to top researchers in the Lyme world. Pioneers in the space agreed to be interviewed and theyve gained through decades of studying tick-borne illness.
They explained the complexities and challenges of these elusive pathogens. I was also fortunate to connect with the Center for Lyme Action. They needed a writer for an educational paper on the state of Lyme disease research to raise awareness and hopefully more funding. A project to dig into the research and summarize it? Sign me up.
One year later, what have I learned? Well, Id say that my research review has helped me answer two key questions that plagued me as a caregiver: 1) why is diagnosing Lyme so freaking hard, and 2) why are millions of Lyme patients still sick after treatment?
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Who Gets Lyme Disease And At What Time Of Year
Lyme disease is transmitted via the bite of infected ticks, which attach to any part of the body, but often to moist or hairy areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp.
While everyone is susceptible to tick bites, campers, hikers, and people who work in gardens and other leafy outdoor venues are at the greatest risk of tick bites. As many a suburban gardener can attest, with the expansion of the suburbs and a push to conserve wooded areas, deer and mice populations are thriving, too, providing ample blood meals for ticks. For lyme disease to be transmitted, a tick needs to feed on the host for 24-48 hours.
In the majority of cases, tick bites are reported in the summer months when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors. But this can extend into the warmer months of early autumn, too, or even late winter if temperatures are unusually high. Similarly, a mild winter can allow ticks, much like other insects, to thrive and emerge earlier than usual.
Lyme Disease: Symptoms And Stages
Symptoms of early-stage Lyme disease include:
- muscle and joint aches
- swollen lymph nodes
Another common symptom of Lyme disease is a rash . As many as 80% of infected people may develop a rash, and roughly 20% of the time the rash has a characteristic bull’s-eye appearance.
When left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Later-stage symptoms may not appear until weeks or months after a tick bite occurs. They include:
- heart-rhythm irregularities
- nervous system abnormalities
Permanent damage to the joints or the nervous system can develop in patients with late Lyme disease. It is rarely, if ever, fatal.
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Key Points To Remember
- Most Lyme disease tests are designed to detect antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
- Antibodies can take several weeks to develop, so patients may test negative if infected only recently.
- Antibodies normally persist in the blood for months or even years after the infection is gone therefore, the test cannot be used to determine cure.
- Infection with other diseases, including some tickborne diseases, or some viral, bacterial, or autoimmune diseases, can result in false positive test results.
- Some tests give results for two types of antibody, IgM and IgG. Positive IgM results should be disregarded if the patient has been ill for more than 30 days.
In What Habitats Are Deer Ticks And Dog Ticks Typically Found
- Deer ticks are usually found in wooded areas and along the forest edge. Deer ticks like areas with leaf litter and low vegetation. They tend to stay low to the ground so they can find a host, since they do not jump, fly, or drop from trees.
- Dog ticks are usually found in wooded areas, in open fields with long grasses, and in brush.,
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Negative Elisa On Serum
Early clinical Lyme disease in the form of erythema migrans with an associated history of a tick bite should be treated empirically. There is no need for testing unless there are further symptoms.
A negative ELISA result in the early stages of Lyme disease does not exclude infection. If acute Lyme disease is suspected but serology results are negative, we recommend that the test is repeated in 4 to 6 weeks with a fresh sample to look for seroconversion.
In patients with long term symptoms a negative ELISA test usually excludes Lyme disease as a cause of these symptoms. Information on differential diagnosis for patients with persistent symptoms and negative Lyme disease serology results is available.
Where Are Ticks In Toronto Located
Blacklegged ticks are found most often in forests and overgrown areas between wooded areas and open spaces. This makes for perfect breeding grounds in many parts of Toronto. Specifically,
- The Rouge Valley, east of Toronto
- Don Valley trail system
The Public Health Agency of Canada works with provincial authorities to identify where populations of infected blacklegged ticks have been established or are spreading.
This is the latest Ontario Lyme Disease Map from Public Health Ontario:
More information can be found here:
In other parts of Ontario, known endemic areas for Lyme disease are:
- Point Pelee National Park
Expansion areas of risk in Ontario include:
- Kingston and surrounding areas along Lake Ontario
- Along the St. Lawrence Valley to the border with Quebec and northeast towards Ottawa
- Northwestern Ontario in the Lake of the Woods region
- Pinery Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Huron
For the most up-to-date information, visit canada.ca/LymeDisease
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What Is Lyme Carditis
Lyme carditis occurs when Lyme disease bacteria enter the tissues of the heart. This can interfere with the normal movement of electrical signals from the hearts upper to lower chambers, a process that coordinates the beating of the heart. The result is something physicians call heart block, which can vary in degree and change rapidly. Lyme carditis occurs in approximately one out of every hundred Lyme disease cases reported to CDC.
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