Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Problems with Lyme Disease Tests-Olivia Cvitanic

In lecture, Professor Latto talked a lot about the symptoms of Lyme disease, how we contract the disease, and why we often don’t notice we’ve been bitten, no that is not a new freckle but a tiny nymph deer tick, duh. However, Professor Latto did not discuss the types of tests for people who may be infected. There are two tests that are most commonly used: ELISA and The Western Blot test. It’s sort of a two-pronged approach because only if you test positive on the ELISA test do you then undergo the Western Blot test. On average, the total cost of testing is usually between $25-$70.

The ELISA test analyses a person’s blood to detect the presence of antibodies against the Lyme disease causing bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. If the test results come back positive or unclear for the ELISA test then a second test, the Western Blot test, is done to confirm the presence of the bacteria. However, it’s not all that simple according to doctors in the International Lyme and Disease Associated Society. Apparently, the tests will not come back positive for the bacteria antibodies if a person has recently, as in two weeks before or less, been bitten by an infected tick., resulting in a “false negative” test result. Due to the tests’ low sensitivity, many infected people assume they don’t have Lyme disease and leave the doctor’s office only to become ill as time goes on- thus getting tested may not save from experiencing some of the serious effects of Lyme disease.

If you would like to read more, I got my information from these two articles:

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