How Will My Doctor Test Me For Lyme Disease
The CDC recommends two-step testing, sometimes referred to as a two-tiered test, for Lyme disease. You will need to go to a lab to have blood drawn. It takes a few days to get results.
If the first test comes back positive or unclear, the lab will do the second blood test. If the first test comes back negative, the CDC does not recommend the second test. However, according to the CDC the second test must be positive for you to be diagnosed with Lyme disease.
The first test: ELISA
This blood test is for antibodies against the Lyme disease bacteria. Because it can take some time for your body to produce antibodies, this test isnt always accurate soon after a person is infected.
The second test: Western Blot or a second ELISA
There are two options for the second test. One is called a Western blot, which looks at how your antibodies react to specific parts of the Lyme disease bacteria. The Western blot test has been part of the two-step testing system since 1994 and is more commonly used.
The other option is to do a second ELISA test, which measures antibodies to a specific protein found on Lyme disease bacteria. Because these tests are newer, not all doctors have experience with them and not all labs have access to them.
These tests can be run on the blood sample used for the first test. You should not need to go back to the lab.
A possible drawback of the two-step testing system
Which second test is best: ELISA or Western blot?
When A Lyme Diagnosis Is Tricky
There are several reasons it can be hard to diagnose Lyme disease.
Tests are less accurate for a short period of time after you first become infected. Thats because Lyme tests look for proteins created by your immune system to help you fight off infection , rather than for the infection itself, and it can take a few weeks for your body to make enough antibodies to cause a positive test.
The only sure sign of Lyme disease is an erythema migrans rash, which often has a bullseye shape. But up to 30% of people who get Lyme disease never get a rash. It is also possible that a person may not notice a rash before it goes away.
Symptoms of Lyme disease like fever and body aches can also be caused by other illnesses. This may result in Lyme diagnoses being missed because symptoms are attributed to another illness.
Using todays tests, it is difficult to distinguish between an old Lyme disease infection and a new one.
Thats why Lyme disease cases may be missed, and as many as 40% of Lyme disease cases are not diagnosed until a later stage of the disease. By that time, Lyme disease is harder to treat, and long-term complications are more likely, so an early, accurate diagnosis is very important.
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Her ordeal is a common one every year, some 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Lyme disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that number is on the rise. Some people wait months or years to get a correct Lyme diagnosis. And their cases highlight a problem: Tests for Lyme in the first month of infection are frequently wrong. When diagnosed and treated early the infection is a simple one to get rid of, but left untreated it can cause a myriad of lingering symptoms, from severe arthritis to short-term memory problems.
Now, a number of research groups are working to improve Lyme tests to catch infections in the early stages. One avenue being studied by the CDC aims to create a Lyme signature of small molecules in the blood an approach that, in early testing, catches a dramatically higher share of early infections.
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Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Timing: Months to years after a tick bite
The infection can spread to the joints or contribute to altered brain function, a condition known as encephalopathy.
Common symptoms of late disseminated Lyme disease include:
Arthritis with joint pain, warmth, and swelling that may be constant or come and go. Lyme disease-related arthritis typically occurs in one joint, usually the knee or another large joint, though it can also occur in more than one joint.
Concentration issues, brain fog, and memory issues
Nerve pain that feels like tingling, numbness, burning, or stabbing in the hands and feet
Anxiety, depression, mood swings, and other neuropsychiatric issues
Sleep disturbances such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, need for extended sleep, or unrefreshing sleep.
You may also experience a worsening of earlier Lyme disease symptoms.
In some people, Lyme disease can cause debilitating fatigue and sleep disturbances . Lyme disease-related arthritis typically occurs in a large joint like the knee .
How Can I Get Rid Of Lyme Disease Fast
A 14- to 21-day course of antibiotics is usually recommended, but some studies suggest that courses lasting 10 to 14 days are equally effective. Intravenous antibiotics. If the disease involves the central nervous system, your doctor might recommend treatment with an intravenous antibiotic for 14 to 28 days.Oct 24, 2020
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Potential Treatment For Lyme Disease Kills Bacteria That May Cause Lingering Symptoms Study Finds
Screening thousands of drugs, Stanford scientists determined that in mice, azlocillin, an antibiotic approved by the Food and Drug Administration, eliminated the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Deer ticks are vectors of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.Scott Bauer/USDA Agricultural Research Service
For decades, the routine treatment for Lyme disease has been standard antibiotics, which usually kill off the infection. But for up to 20% of people with the tick-borne illness, the antibiotics dont work, and lingering symptoms of muscle pain, fatigue and cognitive impairment can continue for years sometimes indefinitely.
A new Stanford Medicine study in lab dishes and mice provides evidence that the drug azlocillin completely kills off the disease-causing bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi at the onset of the illness. The study suggests it could also be effective for treating patients infected with drug-tolerant bacteria that may cause lingering symptoms.
This compound is just amazing, said Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Biomaterials and Advanced Drug Delivery Laboratory at the Stanford School of Medicine. It clears the infection without a lot of side effects. We are hoping to repurpose it as an oral treatment for Lyme disease. Rajadas is the senior author of the study, which was published online March 2 in Scientific Reports. The lead author is research associate Venkata Raveendra Pothineni, PhD.
Amplification And Quantification Of Dna
Because PCR amplifies the regions of DNA that it targets, PCR can be used to analyze extremely small amounts of sample. This is often critical for forensic analysis, when only a trace amount of DNA is available as evidence. PCR may also be used in the analysis of ancient DNA that is tens of thousands of years old. These PCR-based techniques have been successfully used on animals, such as a forty-thousand-year-old mammoth, and also on human DNA, in applications ranging from the analysis of Egyptian mummies to the identification of a Russiantsar and the body of English king Richard III.
Quantitative PCR or Real Time PCR methods allow the estimation of the amount of a given sequence present in a samplea technique often applied to quantitatively determine levels of gene expression. Quantitative PCR is an established tool for DNA quantification that measures the accumulation of DNA product after each round of PCR amplification.
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What Is The Most Accurate Test For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is more common than many people think. Figures from the Center for Disease Control suggest that roughly 300,000 Lyme disease cases occur every year in the US.
The numbers are alarming, but it gets worse as finding accurate diagnostic tests can be challenging. Although the disease is treatable, it is nearly impossible to tackle it effectively if it is not diagnosed accurately and early enough.
Late detection can lead to severe health problems such as arthritis, heart blockage, and inability to concentrate, among other problems.
Given the prevalence and seeming elusiveness of the disease, some of the logical questions concerned persons would ask are: what is the most accurate test for Lyme disease? And when should I get checked for Lyme disease? This article will proffer answers to these and many other related questions. But first, a little background would be in order.
How To Prevent Lyme Disease
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites, explains Dr. Kaufman, and there are steps you can take to reduce your risk, especially if you live in or are going to be visiting an area where ticks are prevalent.
Some of Dr. Kaufmans recommended strategies include:
- If youre hiking, choose your trail wisely. The ticks that cause Lyme disease live in moist and humid environments, especially in wooded or grassy areas, so its best to avoid walking through thick brush and other vegetation, notes Dr. Kaufman. Aim to walk in the middle of the trail, where youre less likely to rub up against bushes.
- Wear clothing that covers the skin. Long sleeves and pants can help reduce the likelihood of Lyme disease.
- Invest in Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents to repel ticks. You can spray these on your skin and clothing. According to the CDC, these products typically contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or 2-undecanone.
- Conduct daily tick checks on yourself, your family members and your pets. People should be thorough about tick checks, and pay extra attention to certain areas of the body, like under the arms, in and around the ears and in and around all head and body hair, notes Dr. Kaufman.
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Can I Be Assured That The Type Of Lyme Disease Testing Carried Out In Ireland Is Accurate
Yes. Irish laboratories operate to a very high standard of quality. Laboratories in Ireland follow the testing guidelines of the US Centres for Disease Control and prevention , Infectious Disease Society of America , European Federation of Neurological Societies and British Infection Association . These guidelines provide information on which of the currently available laboratory tests have enough evidence to accurately diagnose Lyme disease.
It is important that patients who are concerned about Lyme disease seek help and receive a firm diagnosis in Ireland to ensure continued medical care. It is important to ensure that your symptoms and lab results are considered together to make sure your diagnosis is as correct as possible.
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How It Is Done
The health professional taking a sample of your blood will:
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with alcohol.
- Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
- Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
- Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.
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Molecular Testing For Detection Of Borrelia Species Bacterial Dna
PCR is available for Borrelia species DNA detection but is of limited value in routine testing for Lyme disease because the organism is only present in blood during the early stages of the disease and is predominantly restricted to the affected tissues.
Diagnostic molecular testing for Borrelia species DNA is available on request for relevant specimen types. Please call RIPL to discuss individual cases.
When Should I Get Checked For Lyme Disease
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
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
- 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.
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Can Lyme Disease Completely Be Cured
Taking oral antibiotics typically cures Lyme disease after two to four weeks. You may need to get antibiotics through the vein for four more weeks. However, theres no reason to think that Lyme disease stays in you forever after treatment.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If youre going to spend time in an area that might have ticks, take measures to avoid being bitten. This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants to make it harder for ticks to bite. If you feel sick after being in an area that probably has ticks, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If your provider prescribes antibiotics, make sure you take all of them as instructed.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/16/2022.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy
Late Persistent Lyme Disease
If Lyme disease continues without a diagnosis, you can develop serious symptoms months or even years after the tick bite. This is late persistent Lyme disease. One common symptom is arthritis of the knee, which sometimes spreads to other joints. Symptom flares can last as long as six months.
You may have some of the same symptoms as early disseminated Lyme disease, including fatigue, memory problems, and inability to control your facial muscles. You may also have heart palpitations. Rarely, people develop meningitis. You may have a headache and stiff neck, but meningitis from Lyme disease is not fatal.
Recovery from late stage Lyme disease takes 4 to 6 weeks for most people. You will take oral antibiotics for about a month. After a month, if you still have symptoms, especially neurological symptoms like memory loss, your doctor may give you antibiotics through an intravenous drip.
If the infection affects your heart, you may need a temporary pacemaker. Very rarely, heart problems from Lyme disease can be fatal.
The majority of people, about 90%, recover fully from late stage Lyme disease. Arthritis from Lyme disease can sometimes cause permanent joint damage, but this is not common.
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Who’s At Risk Of Lyme Disease
The risk of getting Lyme disease is higher:
- for people who spend time in woodland or moorland areas
- from March to October because more people take part in outdoor activities
It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected. However, it’s important to be aware of the risk and speak to a GP if you start to feel unwell.
The Numbers On Chronic Lyme
Because Lyme disease is commonly missed or misdiagnosed, statistics vary on how many Lyme patients go on to experience chronic symptoms. The following research nonetheless paints a basic picture of the problem.
- An estimated 5-20% of patients may have chronic symptoms after getting Lyme disease, according to the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
- The treatment failure rate for chronic Lyme disease patients was estimated at 26-50% in 2004, compared to 16-39% for early Lyme patients, according to Lymedisease.org.
- Up to 15-40% of late-stage Lyme patients develop neurological disorders, which are responsible for many common symptoms of chronic Lyme disease.
Experts dont know for sure why some people experience persistent symptoms, even with treatment. However, some believe the Lyme infection may trigger an auto-immune response that manifests in the chronic symptoms detailed below.
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What Do I Do If I Find A Tick On My Skin
Dont panic. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skins surface as possible. Pull up with steady, even pressure. Be careful not to squeeze or twist the tick body. Sometimes parts of the tick remain in the skin. You can leave them alone or carefully remove them the same way you would a splinter. Do not use heat , petroleum jelly, or other methods to try to make the tick back out on its own. These methods are not effective.
Wash the area where the tick was attached thoroughly with soap and water. Keep an eye on the area for a few weeks and note any changes. Call your doctor if you develop a rash around the area where the tick was attached. Be sure to tell your doctor that you were bitten by a tick and when it happened.
How Are Dogs Tested For Lyme Disease
Diagnosis is made by a combination of history, physical signs, and diagnostics. For dogs, the two blood tests for diagnosing Lyme disease are called the C6 Test and Quant C6 test. Veterinarians perform both.
The C6 test detects antibodies against a protein called C6. Presence of the antibodies suggests an active Lyme infection. The C6 antibodies can be detected three to five weeks after an infected tick bites a dog and may be found in the bloodstream even before the dog shows signs of illness.
The next step is to do a Quant C6 test. This, along with urinalysis will help determine if antibiotic treatment is necessary.
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