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How Do They Test For Lyme Disease

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You Do Not Usually Need Tests To Show That You Have Lyme Disease

When do you test for Lyme disease?

In most cases, theres a clear sign of Lyme diseasea painless, spreading rash that often grows to look like a bulls eye. If you have this rash, and you recently had a tick bite or were in an area known for Lyme disease, you dont need a test. Instead, your doctor can just start treating you with antibiotics, as appropriate.

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.

What Happens At Your Appointment

The GP will ask about your symptoms and consider any rash or recent tick bites you know about.

Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. It has similar symptoms to other conditions and there’s not always an obvious rash.

2 types of blood test are available to help confirm or rule out Lyme disease. But these tests are not always accurate in the early stages of the disease.

You may need to be retested if you still have Lyme disease symptoms after a negative result.

Read Also: How Long Do Lyme Disease Test Results Take

So When Do You Need Blood Tests For Lyme Disease

In some cases, you can have Lyme disease without the rash. Or you may not see the rash before it goes away on its own.

In these cases, your doctor should ask you about your medical history and do a thorough physical exam. Your doctor should look for these signs that you might have Lyme disease:

  • You were in an area with ticks and Lyme disease.
  • You also have fever or redness, warmth, and swelling in one or a few joints at a time usually the knees, shoulders, or wrists.

Other symptoms can occur later on. Talk to your doctor about testing and treatment choices.

This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.

04/2013

Serological Testing Of Serum For The Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease

A negative test does not rule out Lyme disease! : Lyme

The most commonly used tests look for antibodies to the Borrelia species that cause Lyme disease in the UK and Europe, but they also detect infections from strains of Borrelia from the US.

The antibody response takes several weeks to reach a detectable level, so antibody tests in the first few weeks of infection may be negative. If the first sample was taken within 4 weeks from the start of symptoms and is negative and there is a clinical suspicion of Lyme disease, then retesting in 4 to 6 weeks may be useful.

It is very rare for patients to have negative antibody tests in longstanding infections. Borrelia antibodies persist indefinitely in some patients and this does not indicate continuing disease or a need for re-treatment.

Serological testing for Lyme disease in the UK and much of the world follows a two-step approach using commonly available antibody screening tests as a first stage, followed by immuno-blotting of samples that give positive or indeterminate results in the screening tests.

  • Sensitive screening tests are used at the first stage of testing but have the disadvantage of occasionally detecting other diseases and producing false positive results. RIPL uses the C6 Lyme ELISA for screening

  • Samples giving positive or indeterminate preliminary screening test results are then tested in a more specific system to confirm the presence of Borrelia-specific antibodies. RIPL uses the Borrelia ViraChip® IgG, IgM test for this purpose

  • Also Check: What Is Lyme Disease And What Are The Symptoms

    What Happens During Lyme Disease Testing

    Lyme disease testing is usually done with your blood or cerebrospinal fluid.

    For a Lyme disease blood test:

    • A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

    If you have symptoms of Lyme disease affecting your nervous system, such as neck stiffness and numbness in hands or feet, you may need a test of cerebrospinal fluid . CSF is a clear liquid found in your brain and spinal cord. During this test, your CSF will be collected through a procedure called a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap. During the procedure:

    Can Lyme Disease Be Detected By A Blood Test

    In a word: yes!

    A blood test does not only detect Lyme disease it is the most accurate and preferred test for diagnosing the disease. If a patient with Lyme disease shows signs that the central nervous system has been affected by the disease, western blot testing on the cerebrospinal fluid can be performed. If ordering from Walk-In Lab, a doctors note is not needed. Just pick your Lyme disease test and place your order online.

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    Most Accurate: Dna Connexions

    • Test looks for Borrelia burgdorferi, in addition to 10 other common vector-borne pathogens

    • Urine Sample

    • Does not accept insurance

    • No assistance after testing results are received

    DNA ConneXions is a company known in the scientific community for its detailed analysis of lab results. This at-home Lyme disease test, for example, is superior to the others because it tests for all 10 vector-borne pathogens, while others only test the most common two or three.

    DNA ConneXions earned our most accurate distinction because of its detailed Lyme disease test, as well as its impressive laboratory with a biosafety level 2 lab with a CLIA license. This means the company knows its stuff and is able to help people with accurate testing.

    After DNA ConneXions receives your urine sample, it will review your sample, and email you your results within two to three weeks. It is unclear how much support the company offers after you receive your results, so it would be wise to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor. This is to ensure that your body heals entirely if your Lyme disease test is positive.

    This is the most expensive kit on this list, costing about $650 for the full Lyme panel. As of now, it will not work with insurance companies or accept HSA. The DNA ConneXions lab, however, is one of the most trusted laboratories worldwide.

    When Should I Get Checked For Lyme Disease

    Testing for Lyme DiseaseWhat You Need to Know

    Generally, it is best to get tested for Lyme disease if you live where ticks are common or have recently visited such areas. Most certainly, you should get tested if you suspect that a tick has bitten you. It is important to talk to your doctor if you think you have any of the following early Lyme disease symptoms:

    • A rash resembling a bulls eye on the spot where youve been bitten
    • Fatigue
    • Headaches
    • Fever

    Other symptoms dont show up immediately. Sometimes, it takes up to a few weeks or months after the tick bite to notice the following:

    • Swelling on the joints or severe joint pain
    • Tingling in the feet and hands
    • Dizziness
    • Shortness of breath

    While it is okay get checked early, Lyme disease test results numbers are more authentic a few weeks after youve been bitten by a carrier-tick. Your body would have developed antibodies within that period, and that can make it easier to detect the disease.

    Also Check: What’s The Cure For Lyme Disease

    Early Vs Later Diagnosis

    Lyme disease has been diagnosed long enough, and the infectious bacteria that causes it is easy enough to identify, that most patients with early Lyme disease are able to find a healthcare provider who can accurately diagnose it. Even those patients who are originally told by a healthcare provider that their symptoms are all in their head are often able to find another practitioner to help them get the accurate diagnosis.

    But in some cases, patients find great difficulty in getting a Lyme disease diagnosis. And that’s because there is a controversy that surrounds such a diagnosis for patients who don’t suffer symptoms until long after they were possibly bitten by a tick. While some people exhibit symptoms, including the classic “bull’s eye” rash, early after a tick bite, it’s possible that symptoms won’t show up for months or years after being infected.

    Furthermore, some patients are treated early with antibiotics, but those antibiotics don’t completely destroy the Lyme Borrelia bacteria, or other symptoms occur even when no sign of any lingering infection remains.

    “Chronic” Lyme Disease Diagnosis Controversy

    Although no one denies that some people treated appropriately for Lyme disease go on to have persistent symptoms, there is a huge controversy over what it’s called, what causes it, and how it’s best treated. It has been called “chronic Lyme disease” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls it post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome .

    What If Your Lyme Disease Test Is Positive

    Its important to note that a positive result doesnt mean you have a diagnosis of Lyme disease. The tests will show that antibodies are present in your blood, but a physician will need to order another type of test before you get an official diagnosis.

    If someone gets a positive at-home test, definitely see your doctor, says Dr. Puja Uppal, a board certified family medicine physician and the chief medical officer at Think Healthy.

    A physician will likely order both an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and a Western blot test, which check for antibodies specific to Borrelia burgdorferi. They will consider the results of both these tests, along with your symptoms, to make an accurate diagnosis.

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    Where Is Lyme Disease Found

    In the United States, Lyme disease has been reported in every state, but over 95% of cases are from the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwestern states, with a small number of cases reported along the West Coast, especially Northern California. In Canada, Lyme-positive dogs are found mostly in southern Ontario and southern Manitoba, with a small number of cases in southern Quebec and the Maritime provinces.

    Positive C6 Elisa On Serum

    How Do You Test for Lyme Disease?

    RIPL will automatically proceed to do IgM and IgG immunoblot tests after a positive or indeterminate ELISA test and will provide an overall interpretation of the ELISA and immunoblot in the light of the clinical details provided on the request form.

    Please provide clinical details to allow the interpretation of serological results. These are needed for interpretation because antibody levels from a protective humoral immune response to Borrelia species may persist indefinitely in patients who have had Lyme disease in the past. After successful treatment of Lyme disease antibody concentrations may slowly fall over time.

    Borrelia species are notifiable organisms. The numbers of positive results from laboratory confirmed cases in RIPL are reported to PHE and analysed for inclusion in PHE Health Protection Reports as part of Lyme disease epidemiology and surveillance.

    Recommended Reading: Arizona Lyme Disease Treatment Center

    Why Lyme Is Tough To Diagnose

    • Lyme symptoms are similar to other illnesses, so misdiagnosis is common.
    • Many Canadian doctors are unfamiliar with Lyme, so they dont test for it or administer the wrong tests.
    • Only a handful of blood tests effectively detect Lyme bacteria, so the infection is often missed.

    Dont get discouraged if you get a negative diagnosis. Seek out second, and even third, opinions if you must!

    Lyme Disease In Europe And Asia

    Lyme disease can also occur in Europe and Asia, where Borrelia garinii and Borrelia afzelii are most commonly found.

    Ticks infected with a Lyme disease bacterium can be found in woodlands across the European continent from northern Turkey to northern Sweden. However, Lyme disease is considered endemic in central Europe, where the following countries have the highest tick infection rates: Austria, Czech Republic, southern Germany,Switzerland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. In Europe, Lyme disease is primarily transmitted by the castor bean tick.

    Lyme disease has been reported throughout Asia, as well, such as in Russia, Mongolia, northern China, Japan, and Koreaâ âthough infection from a Lyme disease bacterium appears to be relatively uncommon in these areas. In Asia, Lyme disease is transmitted by the taiga tick .

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    The Best Test For Lyme Disease

    Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness spread by Lyme borreliaebacteria which includes, but is not limited to, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are 400,000 cases of Lyme disease annually, making Lyme a serious public health concern that only stands to grow as the spread of ticks affects disease endemicity and seasonality.

    One of the biggest challenges of fighting Lyme disease is providing patients with accurate diagnostic tests. Without access to the best tests for Lyme disease, its impossible to diagnose this treatable disease in a timely manner. When the disease isnt caught in time, it can spread throughout the body and cause chronic health problems that could otherwise be avoided with earlier detection and treatment.

    What Do Testing Kits Typically Include

    How To Know If You Have Lyme Disease (Tests & Diagnosis)

    Depending on the method of collection, testing kits may include:

    • a device to collect the blood, urine, or saliva sample
    • instructions
    • a container to ship the sample back to the lab
    • a shipping label

    Some kits come with a bandage, wipes, and a biohazard bag. Kits may contain extras such as Styrofoam holders, labels, or tubes with varying solutions inside.

    Recommended Reading: Where Can You Get A Lyme Disease Test

    Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

    A circular or oval shape rash around a tick bite can be an early symptom of Lyme disease in some people.

    The rash can appear up to 3 months after being bitten by an infected tick, but usually appears within 1 to 4 weeks. It can last for several weeks.

    The rash can have a darker or lighter area in the centre and might gradually spread. It’s not usually hot or itchy.

    The rash may be flat, or slightly raised, and look pink, red, or purple when it appears on white skin. It can be harder to see the rash on brown and black skin and it may look like a bruise.

    Some people also get flu-like symptoms a few days or weeks after they were bitten by an infected tick, such as:

    • a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
    • headache
    • tiredness and loss of energy

    Some people with Lyme disease develop more severe symptoms months or years later.

    This is more likely if treatment is delayed.

    These more severe symptoms may include:

    • pain and swelling in joints
    • nerve problems such as pain or numbness
    • heart problems
    • trouble with memory or concentration

    Enzyme Immune Assay Testing:

    This test detects antibodies to the different kinds of bacteria that are known to cause symptoms of Lyme disease. Different strains of Borrelia are found in the USA and Europe but the tests are designed to detect all of the Borrelia that cause symptoms.

    The EIA is the first test performed as it is designed to be very sensitive . If the EIA test is negative for Lyme disease, this can be relied upon to exclude Lyme disease in the patient, especially if the sample is taken when symptoms have been present for several weeks.

    The disadvantage of the EIA is because it is very sensitive it can give false positive results. This means that the EIA test is reacting with something else present in the blood sample which is not related to Lyme disease. False positive EIA results can happen when there are infections with other bacteria or viruses, or in certain inflammatory /automimmune conditions. This is why a positive EIA test should be confirmed by a second test the Western Blot.

    In Ireland, 2.5% of over 4,800 people who were tested by the National Virus Reference Laboratory in a single year had a positive Lyme test result. In Europe, between 3- 5% of the general population show evidence of infection with Borrelia bacteria at some point in their lifetime while a study in Ireland previously found that the background rate of infection in the Irish population was 3.4%.

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    Notes On Serological Tests

    For patients with illness lasting over a month, only IgG testing should be performed . A positive IgM test alone is not sufficient to diagnose current disease in these patients.

    Due to antibody persistence, a positive serological test cannot distinguish between active and past infection.

    Serological tests:

    • should not be done as a test of cure
    • cannot be used to measure treatment response

    The EIA test:

    • may yield false-positive results when used as a stand-alone test
    • may cross-react with antibodies to commensal or pathogenic spirochetes
    • there may be some viral infections for certain autoimmune diseases

    Submission And Collection Notes

    Lyme Disease Tests

    If European Lyme disease testing is required: enter ‘European Lyme disease’ under Test Description of the and provide travel history including location of travel and dates.

    European Lyme is referred to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

    Indicate the following on the :

    • date of onset
    • exposure

    Recommended Reading: How Long Lyme Disease Last

    Who Should Get Testing

    Testing is usually indicated if a person has symptoms of Lyme disease and a known or possible exposure to ticks that can carry the Borrelia bacteria. However, because it takes time for antibodies to develop, the timing of testing is important to consider.

    Lyme disease symptoms depend on the extent of the bacterial infection. Three phases are used to describe the infection:

  • Early localized: In this initial phase, symptoms are normally found only near the tick bite. This early stage is called erythema migrans and involves a noticeable rash that typically develops within a few weeks after being bitten.
  • Early disseminated: In this phase, the bacteria move through the blood to affect other parts of the body and can cause general symptoms like fever, headaches, and pain. In some cases, the bacteria can affect the heart or nervous system.
  • Late disease: This phase occurs long after the initial tick bite and most often includes symptoms affecting the joints or nervous system.
  • It is important to understand these phases because testing is not equally valuable in each stage. With early localized disease and erythema migrans, blood testing is generally not helpful because antibodies have not had enough time to develop.

    Because of similar concerns about potential false positive results, random screening for Lyme disease in people without symptoms is not recommended even in areas that are known to have ticks that can carry the Borrelia bacteria.

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