- According to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) guidelines, currently the blood tests widely used, ELISA and Western Blot, are not always reliable to make a definitive diagnosis of Lyme disease.
- The accuracy of testing to support the Lyme diagnosis depends on a number of variables including the specificity and sensitivity of the tests and the types of tests used.
- Most tests currently available are indirect detection tests (the immune system’s response to the disease), and look for antibodies to Lyme disease spirochetes, not the bacteria.
- The diagnosis should be a clinical one based upon signs and symptoms, tick exposure and evaluation of test results.
- Currently, no tests can rule out Lyme disease. A person can test negative, but still have Lyme disease.
- Treatment protocols can vary due to duration of undetected infection, presence of co-infections, individual’s immune system response and genetic predisposition.
- Oral, intravenous and intramuscular medications may be used in the treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
- Prophylactic (preventive) treatment should be considered when bitten by a tick in a Lyme endemic area because left untreated the bacteria can cause severe, multi-system manifestations including cardiac, arthritic and neurologic abnormalities as well as meningitis.
- It is important to note that:
- Up to 40% of ticks tested in some areas of Connecticut are positive for Lyme disease (CT Agricultural Experiment Station—Tick Management Handbook, published 2004).
- Because the nymph tick is difficult to detect due to its tiny size, most Lyme disease cases are associated with the bite of a nymphal stage of the blacklegged tick, of which 10-36% may be infected with Lyme disease spirochetes. Adult ticks are larger and thus easier to find, but do have a higher infection rate, up to 60% in Lyme endemic areas (CT Agricultural Experiment Station—Tick Management Handbook, published 2004).
The enclosed information and materials are provided for information purposes only. The material (a) is not nor should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor (b) does it necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of Time For Lyme, Inc. or any of its directors, officers, advisors or volunteers. Advice on the testing, treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.