Lyme Disease is a clinical diagnosis, based on the patients history, symptoms & current presentation. Blood tests are used to support a Lyme Disease diagnosis, but because blood tests are currently not very accurate, they are unable to be used to rule a diagnosis of Lyme Disease in or out.
Physicians should use the ILADS treatment guidelines & the Burrascano Diagnostic Hints and Treatment Guidelines for Lyme and other tick borne illnesses to guide them in their diagnosis of Lyme Disease.
Currently the most reliable blood test for Lyme Disease is the Western Blot blood test. Due to a clash between diagnostic criteria & the criteria used to observe lyme disease epidemiologically in the United States, it is difficult to interpret the results of the Western Blot test. For more information on interpreting Lyme Disease Western Blot blood tests, please see this article on Western Blots made easy. The most important thing to note from this article is:-
There are nine known [Lyme] Borrelia burgdorferi species specific Western Blot antibodies (bands): 18, 23, 31, 34, 37, 39, 83 and 93.
Only one of these Borrelia burgdorferi genus specific bands is needed to confirm that there is lab evidence of exposure to the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete and can confirm a clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Another blood test available for testing for Lyme Disease is the Serology or ELISA test. Research has shown that this test has a lack of sensitivity for Lyme Disease & so produces a high number of false negative tests (including in people with a EM rash that has been cultured and found to have lyme disease).
Where should I get blood testing for Lyme Disease done?? Currently testing for Lyme Disease in Australia is in it’s infancy (mainly because they do not to many tests each year). With this in mind, many Australian Lyme Disease patients send their blood to the IGeneX lab in the USA or to the Infectolab in Germany – these labs specialise in Lyme Disease testing and are accredited by their national accreditation bodies.
The other advantage of getting blood tested at the IGeneX lab and Infectolab, is that they are also able to test for co-infections – 95% of Lyme Disease patients have a co-infection such as Babesia, Erhlichia, Bartonella, Ricksettia etc.