What Do The Test Results Mean
Because there are three tests that are typically conducted for the Lyme disease blood test, then results can vary based on the combination of test results received. When all three tests are positive, then Lyme disease is likely. These other result combinations are usually interpreted in the following ways.
Positive IgM, Negative IgG, Negative Western Blot.This usually indicates that the Lyme disease infection is in its early stages or that the blood test has produced a false positive result.
Negative IgM, Positive IgG, Positive Western Blot.This is usually interpreted as having a late-stage Lyme disease infection. It may also be an indication that someone had a previous infection that has been removed from the body.
All results negative.This is usually interpreted as there not being any infection present and that the symptoms are being caused by another issue. In some specific instances, however, it can also be seen as the antibody levels being too low to detect.
Once Lyme disease is confirmed, there will almost always be detectable levels of the bacteria which causes the disease in the IgG antibodies in their blood. This will mean that their IgG blood test results will have a standard deviation in what is considered as normal because of the presence of the disease, even if it has been effectively cured.
Laboratory Tests That Are Not Recommended
Some laboratories offer Lyme disease testing using assays whose accuracy and clinical usefulness have not been adequately established. Examples of unvalidated tests include:
- Capture assays for antigens in urine
- Culture, immunofluorescence staining, or cell sorting of cell wall-deficient or cystic forms of B. burgdorferi
- Lymphocyte transformation tests
- In-house criteria for interpretation of immunoblots
- Measurements of antibodies in joint fluid
- IgM or IgG tests without a previous ELISA/EIA/IFA
Laboratory Testing In Vaccinated Individuals
In 1998 the Food and Drug Administration approved a recombinant OspA vaccine for use in patients at risk of acquiring LD . Since the efficacy of the vaccine is reported to be in the range of 76% after three doses, there will be instances where vaccinated individuals acquire natural infection with B. burgdorferi sensu lato. ELISAs and IFA assays utilizing OspA-producing strains of B. burgdorferi sensu lato will not discriminate between vaccinated and naturally infected individuals. Therefore, the CDC two-step algorithm is not applicable to vaccinated patients and immunoblotting must be relied on for serologic confirmation of infection. In addition to increasing costs, the issue is complicated further by reports that some vaccinated patients produce antibodies that bind to various borrelial proteins, making interpretation of immunoblots more difficult . This will continue to be problematic until ELISAs and other first-line assays based on non-OspA-producing strains or recombinant borrelial proteins are in widespread use and physicians become aware of the specific limitations of the testing methods provided by their laboratories .
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How Lyme Antibody Testing Works
Antibody testing for Lyme disease requires two different tests to establish a positive result. If either the first tier test or the second tier test is negative, the test result is negative overall.
But in the event of a negative result, Dr. Adriana Marques of the NIH states:
For patients with signs or symptoms consistent with Lyme disease for less than or equal to 30 days, the provider may treat the patient and follow up with testing of convalescent-phase serum.
The first tier of the two-tiered testing system is an Enzyme Immunoassay .
The second tier of the well-established Standard Two-Tiered Testing involves a Western Blot test, which can be complicated to understand. The Western Blot is also called an immunoblot or a line blot.
The Western Blot test typically reports two types of antibodies that may be indicative of a Lyme infection: IgM and IgG.
According to the CDC, Positive IgM results should be disregarded if the patient has been ill for more than 30 days.
According to a consensus of experts, including representatives of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Neurology, American College of Rheumatology, and Infectious Diseases Society of America:
Immunoglobulin G seronegativity in an untreated patient with months to years of symptoms essentially rules out the diagnosis of Lyme disease, barring laboratory error or a rare humoral immunodeficiency state.
Best For Dna Test: Selfdecode
Tests for chronic conditions related to Lyme disease like PTLDS
Results in 6-8 weeks
SelfDecode searches for more than Lyme disease. When you take an at-home test through this company, you’ll receive an entire mock-up of your DNA. You will know if you ever had Lyme disease in the past, as well as if you are susceptible to PTLDS, a chronic condition triggered by Lyme Disease.
The test involves taking a simple cheek swab, after which the test is mailed back to the company’s lab. After six to eight weeks, you will receive your results via email, and you will be contacted by a medical professional to see what the next steps are.
This is a subscription service that costs just under roughly $100 a year, so you will be able to check yourself for Lyme disease regularly when the test is shipped out. This service is great for those who enjoy the outdoors and are exposed to ticks a lot.
SelfDecode’s test is not covered by insurance, but most primary care physicians will accept these results.
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You Do Not Usually Need Tests To Show That You Have 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.
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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The Swiss Agent: Long
Lyme disease is a serious problem here in the United States and we really need to find solutions to some of the limitations that we have, particularly in diagnosing this infection, said Claudia Molins, a microbiologist at the CDC. We want a test that can be used within the first two weeks of infection and that does not rely on antibody production.
So Molins and her colleagues are focusing on metabolomics an approach that, rather than testing directly for the immune response to the infection, instead looks for a wide spectrum of collateral damage.
Specifically theyre looking for so-called metabolite biosignatures: the litany of sugars, peptides, lipids, amino acids, fatty acids, and nucleotides normally present in the blood.
Infections like Lyme, the thinking goes, change the levels of these things and they do so in a predictable, measurable way.
Molins and her team tested that hypothesis by tapping a unique CDC resource freezers filled with well-characterized blood serum samples. They used serum from 89 early Lyme patients, within the first month of infection, and 50 healthy controls to develop an algorithm to detect Lyme blood signatures.
The researchers then tested that algorithm on a larger sample of serums and found that they could diagnose 88 percent of early Lyme cases, and could differentiate Lyme from other diseases 93 percent of the time. The results were published in a 2015 study in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Tbrf Can Cause A Negative Result
The disease Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever is caused by a similar but totally separate species of Borrelia to the bacterium that causes Lyme disease and also causes Lyme-like symptoms. However, if a patient with TBRF takes a Lyme disease test, the TBRF will not show up, causing the Lyme test to be negative even though the patient is still sick with an infection.
Have More Questions? Contact Us
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Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease
The diagnosis of Lyme disease can be made clinically or in conjunction with laboratory test results. When the skin rash is typical and when a patient has been exposed to an environment where blacklegged ticks are known to be established, the diagnosis can be made on clinical grounds alone. In parts of Canada where adventitious, unestablished populations of blacklegged or western blacklegged ticks have been noted, a clinical diagnosis is more challenging. When the rash is atypical or occurs in circumstances in which exposure to the appropriate vector tick species was unlikely, diagnosis is based on the demonstration of a serological response to B burgdorferi. Immunoglobulin M antibodies are usually detectable within weeks of the onset of symptoms however, a significant proportion of patients with EM may not have detectable antibody at the time of initial presentation . Furthermore, when patients are treated very early in the course of illness, antibodies may not develop. When an initial antibody determination is negative, it is suggested that a second serum specimen be collected four weeks later.
Current evidence suggests that commercially available enzyme immunoassays used for the purpose of screening are sufficiently sensitive .
Antigen detection has also been used in both spinal fluid and urine. As with NAT, antigen tests cannot be recommended unless their sensitivity and specificity significantly improve .
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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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Investigation Of Suspected Neurological Lyme Disease
The diagnosis of neurological Lyme disease can only be confirmed by examination of the CSF and a paired serum. A definite diagnosis is based on the presence of a pleocytosis in the CSF, demonstration of intrathecal synthesis of specific antibodies to Borrelia species in CSF by comparison to serum and the presence of neurological symptoms. It is not possible to confirm intrathecal synthesis and hence definite neurological Lyme disease without a paired serum .
In 2018 RIPL is introducing a service for the detection of intrathecal synthesis of Borrelia-specific antibodies which is summarised in this flow diagram.
Clinicians may ask for guidance on laboratory testing of CSF from RIPL if required.
Most Accurate: Dna Connexions
Test looks for Borrelia burgdorferi, in addition to 10 other common vector-borne pathogens
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.
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How Is It Diagnosed
If youâve been outside in an area where ticks are known to live, you should tell your doctor. Theyâll also want to know about the symptoms youâre having. These details are crucial to making a diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Early symptoms that usually occur within the first month after a tick bite can include:
- Rash at the site of the tick bite that may look like a âbullâs-eyeâ
- Racing heart
- Problems with your short-term memory
Symptoms that come and go are common with Lyme disease. They will also depend on the stage of the disease.
How We Chose The Best At
When evaluating the companies for the best at-home Lyme disease tests, we looked at several key factors in order to provide you with the best information. For one, accuracy was extremely important, so we looked at testing centers with the best reviews and certifications. Every test mentioned in this article has been evaluated and awarded for their laboratory accuracy when dealing with their at-home tests.
Since Lyme disease is so severe and a misdiagnosis can have awful repercussions, we also considered how others reviewed the at-home tests.
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How Do They Test For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is best tested using two different blood testing methods. These are:
- The Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay test: In a nutshell, this test will look for signs that your body is trying to fight off Lyme disease by producing antibodies. However, the ELISA test may come back negative even when a person is infected by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. False-negatives can occur during the early stages of the disease, where the infected persons body has not produced enough antibodies to fight off the B. burgdorferi bacteria. For this reason, reliable diagnosis is not usually based only on the ELISA test results.
- Western Blot test: Heres a simple way to explain the western blot test without getting into all the nitty-gritty details of what it does and how it does it. Put simply, it separates the blood proteins and detects antibodies to the bacteria causing the Lyme disease. Usually, when an ELISA test comes back positive, a western blot test is performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Ideally, the CDC recommends standard two-tier testing to confirm the veracity of the Lyme disease test accuracy. Together, the ELISA and western blot tests are 99.9% accurate.
Late Lyme Disease Symptoms
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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.
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Rapid Lyme Disease Tests Could Soon Be Heading To A Doctors Office Near You
A faster test for Lyme disease with results in as little as an hour could be available in doctors offices in the near future thanks to the efforts of two UCF researchers.
Mollie Jewett, associate professor and head of the Immunity and Pathogenesis Division at the College of Medicine and Brian Kim an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, will split a $325,000 grant over two years from the Global Lyme Alliance to create a rapid test that can detect the disease weeks earlier than current tests allow. The new test would eliminate the need to visit diagnostic labs and wait for the results.
Lyme disease is carried by deer ticks and infects people when they are bitten by ticks carrying the bacteria borrelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks are especially common in the northeastern United States and people are exposed to the ticks usually during outdoor activities. Warming temperatures have helped tick populations explode and infiltrate more areas of the country increasing the chance of getting the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 476,000 people are infected with Lyme disease every year.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease are fever, headache, fatigue and the possibility of a telltale bullseye rash at the site of the bite. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system and cause debilitating long-term conditions.
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