The Scoop on Lyme Disease Testing
Lyme Disease is a complex and complicated disease. The testing of tick borne diseases has its challenges as well. It's important to know what we are up against so that we can understand the environment and make informed, empowered choices for our health.
Often ignored and misunderstood, Lyme disease is a condition that is rarely diagnosed properly. One reason for the difficulty in diagnosis is that conditions such as fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MS, ALS, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, as well as more than some 350 different diseases, indicate similar symptoms.
The characteristic "bull's-eye" rash (erythema migrans), that we're all told to look out for, actually only appears in an estimated 30-50% of infected individuals or it may appear in a different form. Most peopple don't remember a tick on them, let alone seeing a rash. If the rash appears in a hard to see spot, you might miss it as well. Getting the rash is a positive indication that you have been infected. Don't wait to begin treatment and testing is not necessary at this point. However, not getting the rash does not mean you don't have Lyme disease!
Unfortunately, most physicians do not know how to recognize or treat Lyme disease, due to it's complex pathogenesis and the fact that it is a multi-system disease, along with a general lack of awareness despite the epidemic proportions of Lyme disease. Clinical presentation can be subtle and complex, making it difficult for both the patient and the Dr to recognize what might be the cause.
Lastly, the ticks responsible for transmitting the bacteria that cause Lyme disease also carry other pathogens that can cause coinfections, serving to interfere with the clinical diagnosis. Coinfections can adversely influence patients' immune systems and alter the characteristics of the disease and the severity of the infection. As a result, misdiagnosis often occurs, leaving patients to receive improper treatments.
A lack of adequate testing further complicates the issue. Currently there is no standard test within the medical field that indicates a positive condition. While testing is available, it only focuses on markers for the disease's early stages.
Moreover, current tests at most laboratories are based on only one strain of Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease), despite the fact that there are more than 300 strains known worldwide (100 in North America alone), such as Borrelia andersonii, Borrelia lonestari, and Borrelia miyamotoi!! These other species of Borrelia are ignored mainly because the laboratories have difficulty isolating and identifying them. This difficulty contributes to researchers' inability to study and understand the bacteria's pathogenesis and can result in a patient receiving a negative test when in reality they are positive for a particular strain not tested for.
Due to pronounced testing limitations, patients have a high probability of receiving false-negative test results. And because most tests measure antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi – not the organism itself – patients sometimes test positive even if the organisms are no longer present.
Below are links to a wide range of information for you to read through. We encourage you to do your own research as well to learn the truth.