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When To Test For Lyme Disease

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Future Possibilities For Diagnostic Tools

Officials harvest ticks, test for Lyme disease in Sacramento area

NIAID-supported scientists have identified genome sequences for multiple strains of B. burgdorferi. Greater advances in diagnostics are anticipated as genetic information is combined with advances in microarray technology, imaging, and proteomics. These growing fields of science are expected to lead to improved diagnostic tools as well as provide new insights on the pathogenesis of Lyme disease. Examples of tools being developed with NIAID support include use of metabolomics to characterize new biomarkers of infection, next generation T-cell based measurements, and novel antigens for improved measurement of effective treatment.

High Endemicity Screening Of A Child

A healthy child from an area of high endemicity receives an annual physical. The mother notes that the child enjoys playing in the backyard, which is adjacent to a heavily wooded area.

Serologic testing should not be ordered because the child is asymptomatic. A false-positive test result would expose the child unnecessarily to the risks of treatment. In this scenario, the probability that a positive test represents true infection is less than 25 percent.

What The Experts Say

According to the CDC:

  • Patients who have had Lyme disease for longer than 4-6 weeks, especially those with later stages of illness involving the brain or the joints, will almost always test positive.
  • A patient who has been ill for months or years and has a negative test almost certainly does not have Lyme disease as the cause of their symptoms.
  • Serologic testing is generally not useful or recommended for patients with single EM rashes. For this manifestation, a clinical diagnosis is recommended.

Experts around the world agree with the CDC. A 2018 French review of 16 Lyme diagnostic guidelines from 7 countries revealed a global consensus regarding diagnosis at each stage of the infection. The only outlier was the pseudoscience group German Borreliosis Society , a German counterpart to the pseudoscience group ILADS.

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Polymerase Chain Reaction May Help In Some Situations

Molecular assays are not part of the standard evaluation and should be used only in conjunction with serologic testing. These tests have high specificity but lack consistent sensitivity.

That said, PCR testing may be useful:

  • In early infection, before antibody responses develop

  • In reinfection, when serologic tests are not reliable because the antibodies persist for many years after an infection in many patients

  • In endemic areas where serologic testing has high false-positive rates due to high baseline population seropositivity for anti-Borrelia antibodies caused by subclinical infection.

PCR assays that target plasmid-borne genes encoding outer surface proteins A and C and VisE are more sensitive than those that detect chromosomal 16s ribosomal ribonucleic acid genes, as plasmid-rich blebs are shed in larger concentrations than chromosomal DNA during active infection. However, these plasmid-contained genes persist in body tissues and fluids even after the infection is cleared, and their detection may not necessarily correlate with ongoing disease. Detection of chromosomal 16s rRNA genes is a better predictor of true organism viability.

The disadvantage of PCR is that a positive result does not always mean active infection, as the DNA of the dead microbe persists for several months even after successful treatment.

Positive C6 Elisa On Serum

Lyme Disease IFA Test Archives

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.

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Submission And Collection Notes

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

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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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How Can I Tell If Treatment Is Working

If joint lameness is the presenting sign, improvement may be noted after 3-5 days starting antibiotics. A dog’s response to therapy can be assessed by repeating the QC6 test six months after treatment is complete. Dogs that start with a moderate to high QC6 value typically show a 50% reduction or more in the QC6 at six months, indicating that treatment has been successful. Dogs that have a lower initial QC6 value may not show such dramatic reductions in the QC6 at six months, although the value should still be lower than the starting point if treatment has been successful.

A persistently high QC6 suggests treatment may not have been complete or that the dog became reinfected after treatment was stopped.

So When Do You Need Blood Tests For Lyme Disease

Testing for Lyme DiseaseWhat You Need to Know

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

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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.

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.

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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 Frequently Asked Questions

Lyme disease test stock image. Image of infection ...

If you have not done so already, remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers.

The chances that you might get Lyme disease from a single tick bite depend on the type of tick, where you acquired it, and how long it was attached to you. Many types of ticks bite people in the U.S., but only blacklegged ticks transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Furthermore, only blacklegged ticks in the highly endemic areas of the northeastern and north central U.S. are commonly infected. Finally, blacklegged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease. This is why its so important to remove them promptly and to check your body daily for ticks if you live in an endemic area.

If you develop illness within a few weeks of a tick bite, see your health care provider right away. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash, fever, body aches, facial paralysis, and arthritis. Ticks can also transmit other diseases, so its important to be alert for any illness that follows a tick bite.

References:

Moody KD, Barthold SW, 1991. Relative infectivity of Borrelia burgdorferi in Lewis rats by various routes of inoculation.external iconAm J Trop Med Hyg 44: 135-9.

There are no reports of Lyme disease being spread to infants through breast milk. If you are diagnosed with Lyme disease and are also breastfeeding, make sure that your doctor knows this so that he or she can prescribe an antibiotic thats safe for use when breastfeeding.

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How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed

Diagnosing Lyme disease can be difficult as symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms can also be similar to other illnesses.

A diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on:

Laboratory testing may be recommended for patients with signs, symptoms and history of exposure to tick bite to support a clinical diagnosis.

Seek your health care provider right away if you develop symptoms of Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick or if you visited a known at risk area for Lyme disease. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the greater the chance of a successful treatment.

Serology And Dna Testing

There are two main types of Lyme testing. The first one tests the bodys reaction to the bacteria. You can do this by detecting whether antibodies are being created against that particular microbe. Secondly, you can check for the presence particles of the DNA of the bacteria.

There are other types of testing available, but the above are the two main types, namely, serology or antibody testing and, DNA or PCR testing.

Both these types of tests are designed to detect acute Lyme disease.

In the initial stages of infection, the bacteria is still in the blood, and it is relatively easy to find it. Later on however when the bacteria have moved away from the blood and invaded the tissue, then it becomes harder to detect.

This latter scenario highlights one of the problems with testing for Lyme in that many people who are initially infected with Lyme often do not have an acute reaction.

Many people begin to exhibit symptoms much later after their immune system begins to deteriorate, and by then the bacteria is deeply embedded in tissue.

So whether you are going to find the bacteria depends on firstly if the concentration of microbes in tissue is high enough to give a reaction and secondly if the immune system is reacting to it.

In acute Lyme, research shows that current testing has a pickup rate of 95%. On the flip side, in chronic Lyme, scientists do not know the pickup rate. They do not know if it a 30% pickup rate or 80%.

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References Choosing A Test

  • Wormser GP, Liveris D, Hanincova K et al. Effect of Borrelia burgdorferi genotype on the sensitivity of C6 and 2-tier testing in North American patients with culture-confirmed Lyme disease. Clin Infect Dis, 47, 910-914 .
  • Wormser GP, Schriefer M, Aguero-Rosenfeld ME et al. Single-tier testing with the C6 peptide ELISA kit compared with two-tier testing for Lyme disease. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis, .
  • What Abnormal Results Mean

    Early Lyme disease test comes with CDC warning

    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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    Negative C6 Elisa On Serum

    Early clinical Lyme disease in the form of erythema migrans with 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 4-6 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.

    Choosing A Lyme Disease Test

    Often the diagnosis of Lyme disease depends upon the physicians readiness to listen and ask questions and on the mutual exchange of information, beginning with the initial doctor-patient interview.

    Often the diagnosis of Lyme disease depends upon the physicians readiness to listen.

    Lyme disease should be diagnosed clinically, without reliance on testing. However, all too often, physicians will ignore clinical presentations if laboratory tests are negative. Yet there are numerous scientific articles documenting false negatives and low sensitivity of such tests.

    There can be several reasons for the inaccurate results. The sensitivity of the tests varies greatly depending upon how long an individual has been infected and on the type of clinical manifestations. If a patient has received antibiotics in the early stage of the disease, antibody levels may be too low to be detected or nonexistent. Antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi do not appear in the blood until several weeks after the tick bite. The Lyme bacteria are not always present in the blood. The person could have been infected with a strain of Bb that is not covered in testing.

    That said, laboratory tests can be used to support the diagnosis. Because of the varied presentations and necessity of relying on a patients symptoms, several tests may be helpful.

    The ELISA and Western blot are the most common tests used to diagnose Lyme disease. Both tests measure antibodies to Bb, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

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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 Borrelia bacteria.

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