What can I say about Lyme testing that won’t leave you in tears? Current options are rather frustrating.

Most Lyme tests that are currently used and covered by insurance are unreliable and often give false negatives.

There are some people who have been sick for decades, who have been tested but the results of the crappy tests comes back negative . The doc says, “You don’t have lyme" and they beleive them. They leave the office only to go on suffering. If people only knew how awful and inaccurate current testing is.

The ELISA test is the first test that misinformed doctors will run and is actually over 52% inaccurate. 

Many insurance companies won’t pay for a Western Blot test unless the ELISA has come back positive. 

The Western Blot is an interpretive test that can have many false negatives based on the lab technician's training. The CDC states that a patient must have 5 reactive bands to be classified as a “postive” result.  However, many Lyme literate doctors feel that if one Lyme specific band is positive that is enough to prove the presence of Borrelia in the body. Lyme specific bands are: 18, 23, 31, 34, 37, 39, 83 and 93. 

If you tested positive for one of theses bands, a Lyme literate physician would consider that one Lyme specific band is proof that you have had exposure to the Borrelia spirochete and can confirm a clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease.

When Igm Western Blot antibodies are detected it is considered a current or acute Lyme infection.

IgG Western Blot antibodies often are not detected until the infection has been in the body for 6+ weeks. When it is detected it is considered a chronic or old infection. Less Lyme saavy doctors may interpret this as an “old infection” that you have overcome. They may say, “You had Lyme but it’s gone now.” even if you are still symptomatic. Borrelia is one smart bug! It can shape shift and hide deep in your body, protect it self from detection with biofilms. It can even hide inside your own cells, making it very hard to test for. Some people infected are so so so very ill that they are not strong enough to produce any antibodies that can be detected on Western Blot testing. 

There is so much room for misunderstanding, human error, and inaccurate results with the Western Blot and sadly it still a common diagnostic tool used.

Neil Nathan gives a great explanation of how Western blots are interpreted at his lecture at the MCDH Wellness Center. Fast forward to 23:00 minutes in for this information, however the whole talk is great (except for the sound quality). This talk is from 2010. DNA Connexions testing has become available since then.

How Western Blot is done in the lab

Columbia’s view on Western Blot

The Jemske Specialty Clinc shares their view on testing

In my humble lay person’s opinon, the most hopeful Lyme test on the market  is the DNA Connexions test. This test that came out in 2016 looks for DNA presence of Borrelia and co-infections in the urine. It tests for numerous species of Borrelia and 8 different co-infections. It is the most economical test, however insurance won’t cover it. It is very important to get a deep tissue massage one hour before collecting the urine! I know that massage can be very painful for some of you but it is important to do this.

Here is a Blogcast on DNA Connexions

There are also ePCR tests  by Galaxy Labs and C6 Peptide tests which can be explained in more detail here.

CD-57 is a test done through LabCorp"CD" stands for "Cluster Designation" which is a molecule on the cell that gives the CD57 cell its identity. The "57" in CD57 is the numerical order it was discovered in. It has been reported that patients with chronic Lyme disease have a low number of natural killer cells, as defined by the CD57 marker. The CD57 marker is present on natural killer cells (NK) and T lymphocytes. The CD57 is not 100% accurate for diagnosing chronic Lyme disease, but it is useful tool when it is compared with a patients symptoms as well as other diagnostic Lyme tests such as a Western Blot test or the c3a and c3a complement protein test. When a Western Blot comes back negative, but the CD57 is below 60 and the person is symptomatic, doctors will often treat for lyme.  

Lyme , HIV, Tuberculosis, and Chlamydia pneumonia are infections that make the the CD57 low. 

**There is controversy over the CD57 markers. Some physicians feel it is a very useful diagnostic tool, where others feel it is no longer as reliable a marker as they once thought it was…

Here’s an Article on CD57

C4a  & C3a  The "C" in C3a and C4a stands for complement. Complement proteins work with antibodies to destroy pathogens. They activate immunity by controling inflammation, phagocytosis (ingestion of pathogens by white blood cells) and cell death by lysis (breaking of the cell membrane).  There are about 30 of these complement proteins that circulate in the bloodstream making up complement "cascades", because activation of one protein initiates activation of the next. C3a levels are often elevated in  acute Lyme disease, however, C4a levels can be elevated in chronic lyme patients.

Article on C4a

Lyme Testing Sign Up

Emerging testing technology:

Dr. Chiu’s diagnostic tool is available in San Francisco. To learn more follow this link. Go to 5:15 in 

Stand 4 Lyme reasearchers are working on new diagnostic tools.

NutriGentic Research is working on DNA diagnostic tools to understand how DNA variants effect Lyme recovery

Galaxy Diagnostics made new testing available in 2020.

Links for more info on testing:

‘BetterHealthGuy' has great information on testing

Envita’s view on false negative tests

Dr. Jones view on interpreting the Western Blot

Tired of Lyme’s view on testing

Lyme Disiease Disagnosis

Organizations that help with Lyme testing cost:

LymeTap is a wonderful organization that helps low income people with reduced rate Lyme testing. They help with IgeneX, Galaxy Labs, DNA Connexions, and others.

Lyme Disease Awareness Foundation helps cover testing costs also.

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