Is There A Blood Test For Lyme Disease
If your doctor suspects that you have Lyme disease, they may order two blood tests. These will look for signs that your body is trying to fight it off. The results are most precise a few weeks after youâve been infected.
These tests are:
ELISA test. This test canât check for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It can only look for your immune systemâs response to it.
Although itâs the most common way to check for Lyme disease, the ELISA test isnât perfect. It can sometimes give false âpositiveâ results. On the other hand, if you have it done too soon after youâve been infected, your body may not have developed enough antibodies for the test to detect them. This will give you a ânegativeâ result even though you do have Lyme disease.
Western blot test. Whether your ELISA test comes back positive or negative, your doctor will need to do this blood test, too.
A Western blot uses electricity to split certain proteins in your blood into patterns. This is then compared to the pattern of people known to have Lyme disease.
At least five band matches means that you have Lyme disease. Still, not all labs have the same standards. Thereâs a chance that you could get a âpositiveâ result from one and a ânegativeâ result from another.
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Why It Is Done
A Lyme disease test is done to diagnose Lyme disease in people who have symptoms of Lyme disease. Symptoms may include:
- An expanding red rash with a pale center. This is sometimes called a “bull’s-eye” rash.
- Extreme tiredness.
- Headache and stiff neck.
- Muscle and joint pain.
Symptoms of chronic Lyme disease infection include joint pain, stiffness, and problems with the heart, brain, or nerves.
Testing is most accurate when you have risk factors for Lyme disease or symptoms of the disease.
Lyme Disease Blood Test Results Fully Explained
The Lyme disease blood test is used to discover if someone who has the symptoms of a Borrelia burgdorferi infection actually has the bacteria in their bloodstream. Recent infections are much easier to detect and an IgM and IgG blood test will often be ordered as complimentary information gathering tools. This blood test does not always detect the presence of the disease, so patients that have persistent symptoms after having the test may be re-tested in a few weeks.
If any of these tests come back as positive, then other samples will be used to track the stage of the disease to determine if it has reached the chronic infection stage. At this point, a medical provider will order a Western blot test to confirm the presence of Lyme disease.
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What Abnormal Results Mean
A positive ELISA result is abnormal. This means antibodies were seen in your blood sample. But, this does not confirm a diagnosis of Lyme disease. A positive ELISA result must be followed up with a Western blot test. Only a positive Western blot test can confirm the diagnosis of Lyme disease.
For many people, the ELISA test remains positive, even after they have been treated for Lyme disease and no longer have symptoms.
A positive ELISA test may also occur with certain diseases not related to Lyme disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Sample Types For Lyme Disease Testing
For routine Lyme disease serological testing, you must send a serum sample .
For testing for neurological Lyme disease, you must send paired CSF and serum samples taken on the same day. If possible, please provide CSF cell count and total albumin, IgG and IgM values. If albumin, IgG and IgM measurements are not available, RIPL will make arrangements for these measurements at additional cost.
PCR testing is available. We recommend that specialists call RIPL to discuss appropriate sample types for PCR. These may include joint fluid, biopsy tissue, CSF and EDTA plasma. Please submit biopsies as fresh tissue in a sterile container, ideally with a drop of sterile saline to prevent the tissue drying out.
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Getting An Initial Screening
Lyme Disease Testing & Results
To get the Lyme disease test near you, simply order online and get tested at the selected Quest Diagnostics lab location. Once the Lyme disease test results are available, they will be available for download. Many people wonder whether fasting is required and how long results take for the Lyme test. Fasting is not required when getting a Lyme disease blood test and results are typically available in 4 business days or less. As can be seen on the sample Lyme disease screening test report above, the Lyme antibody screen will report the antibody levels which can be compared against a reference range provided by the lab. If Lyme disease antibodies are detected, the Lyme western blot test will be performed and reported to provide more detail. This Lyme disease test is a component of the more comprehensive infection panel test that screens for a variety of infections.
In most cases, Lyme disease can be treated effectively with common antibiotics such as doxycycline, cefuroxime and amoxicillin. The risk of being exposed to Lyme disease in the first place can be reduced by avoiding regions with infected ticks. When in an at-risk location, it is recommended to wear a hat, long sleeve shirts and long pants and to use insect repellants like DEET. A recombinant Lyme vaccine used to exist but is no longer available.
- A doctorâs lab order*
- A PDF copy of your test results
- Responsive customer service
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Lyme Disease Test Western Blot
Labs performing a Western blot use electricity to separate proteins called antigens into bands. The read-out from the Western blot looks like a bar code. The lab compares the pattern produced by running the test with your blood to a template pattern representing known cases of Lyme disease. If your blot has bands in the right places, and the right number of bands, it is positive.
The CDC requires 5 out of 10 bands for a positive test result. However, because some bands on the Western blot are more significant than others your doctor may decide you have Lyme disease even if your Western blot does not have the number of bands or specific bands recommended by the CDC. Different laboratories use different methods and criteria for interpreting the test, so you can have a positive test result from one lab and a negative test result from another.
For a comprehensive explanation of the western blot test, download Understanding Western Blot Lyme disease test.
The chart below will help you understand how to interpret the western blot test.
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 Do Patients Test Negative For Lyme Disease In Ireland But Test Positive For Lyme Disease In Another Country
Laboratories in Ireland generally follow the laboratory testing recommendations of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention , the Infectious Disease Society of America , the European Federation of Neurological Societies and the British Infection Association .
The antibody tests used in Ireland are made by commercial companies and meet strict quality criteria. Irish laboratories have their own quality assurance methods to make sure the tests are working correctly as well as being accredited by the Irish National Accreditation Body to perform the test correctly.
Testing which is performed abroad may be performed in laboratories which have not met National or International Accreditation . In some cases they may use tests which are made in the laboratory rather than purchased from commercial companies. These tests may not have the same or consistent levels of quality as commercial tests which must meet specific European criteria called CE marking. These tests may be more likely to give a false positive result for those reasons.
Some laboratories abroad do not use antibody tests like the EIA and western blot and instead will use other types of tests. For example, testing for levels of a specific white blood cell or lymphocyte transformation tests . These types of tests are not currently recommended by international groups such as the CDC, IDSA or BIA for a number of reasons:
Can Ticks On Cats Transfer To Humans
Ticks are unpleasant parasites that may affect your cat and if your cat is bitten, the tick may even pose a risk to people in your household. Ticks can also carry diseases. The bacterial infections including Lyme disease can be carried by ticks and passed to cats and even people, if they get a chance to bite.
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The Role Of Lyme Disease Tests
The purpose of the most common type of Lyme disease testing is to determine whether you have developed antibodies as a result of past exposure to the Borrelia bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Antibodies are proteins created by the immune system that target specific threats like bacteria and viruses.
Blood testing alone cannot determine whether you have Lyme disease. Instead, testing can provide helpful information that your doctor can consider along with other factors, such as any symptoms youve had and whether youve been exposed to ticks that can carry Borrelia, to determine if a diagnosis of Lyme disease is appropriate.
Beyond blood testing, it is possible to analyze fluid from the central nervous system for signs of the Borreliabacteria.
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The Chance Of Getting Lyme Disease
Not all ticks in England carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
But it’s still important to be aware of ticks and to safely remove them as soon as possible, just in case.
Ticks that may cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, but high-risk places include grassy and wooded areas in southern and northern England and the Scottish Highlands.
Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures that live in woods, areas with long grass, and sometimes in urban parks and gardens. They’re found all over the UK.
Ticks do not jump or fly. They attach to the skin of animals or humans that brush past them.
Once a tick bites into the skin, it feeds on blood for a few days before dropping off.
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Learn The Stages Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease occurs in three stages: early localized, early disseminated and late disseminated. However the stages can overlap and not all patients go through all three. A bulls-eye rash is usually considered one of the first signs of infection, but many people develop a different kind of rash or none at all. In most cases, Lyme symptoms can start with a flu-like illness. If untreated, the symptoms can continue to worsen and turn into a long-lived debilitating illness.
Stage 1: Early Localized Disease
Symptoms with early localized Lyme disease may begin hours, a few days or even weeks after a tick bite. At this point, the
infection has not yet spread throughout the body. Lyme is the easiest to cure at this stage.
Symptoms may include:
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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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Lyme Disease Blood Test Western Blot
The Lyme disease blood test, western blot is used to detect antibodies specific for B burgdorferi.
Also Known As: Borrelia burgdorferi Antibodies Lyme Disease Antibodies , Immunoblot
Methodology: Western blot
Preparation: No special preparation required.
Test Results: 7-10 days. May take longer based on weather, holiday or lab delays.
If I Am Worried About Lyme Disease Who Can I Talk To
Lyme disease is being increasingly recognised as causing illness and hardship, if the diagnosis is missed. Over the last number of years, there has been a marked increase in awareness of the condition among GPs and hospital doctors in Ireland. Each of the HSEs Hospital Groups have a number of Infectious Disease Consultants who are expert in the diagnosis and management of Lyme disease. If you have been bitten by a tick or have other reasons to strongly suspect you may have Lyme disease, you should visit your GP for advice.
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Are The Patients Symptoms Consistent With Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne infection in North America, and incidence in Canada is increasing, with more than 500 cases reported in 2013. However, this patient is very unlikely to have Lyme disease because he lacks both a compatible epidemiologic exposure and clinical findings of Lyme infection.
The cause of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks . Most infections occur during spring and summer, and transmission is uncommon if tick attachment is less than 36 hours. Infected ticks have now established endemic populations in several Canadian provinces, including British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Maritime provinces.
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Some Frequently Asked Questions
If I got a negative Lyme test LESS than 6 weeks after a tick bite, might I really have Lyme disease?
Antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi can take 6 weeks to develop and sometimes even longer. During the first six weeks after developing symptoms, a Lyme disease test could therefore be negative.
If the first ELISA test was negative within this time frame but a person still has Lyme symptoms, the test should be repeated, as set out in the flow chart above.
If I got a negative test MORE than 6 weeks after being infected, might I really have Lyme disease?
It is possible, although less likely than in the scenario described above.
There are different possible explanations why some symptomatic patients may test negative for Lyme disease using two-tier blood testing.
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Is there a more reliable test that I could have done privately?
No, there is no type of test for Lyme disease currently proven to be more accurate than the tests used by the NHS. Some private laboratories do offer other types of tests which they claim are more reliable than the NHS tests, including modified western blot tests, ELISPOT, MELISA, and CPR tests that seek to detect the bacterial DNA.
See the question below, Why wont my NHS doctor prescribe me treatment based on my positive private Lyme disease test? for more information on this.
What is the Lyme disease ELISA test?
What is the Lyme disease western blot test?
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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.