Lyme Disease Research Database Independent reporting on all aspects of Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease Tests

Best test for Lyme & Co-infections

Best test for Lyme co-infections
Should Lyme patients be concerned about Bartonella? Commonly associated with Cat Scratch Disease (CSD), this bacteria is also commonly included in the toxic waste dumped into the human bloodstream via a tick or flea bite.

If you have a diagnosis of Lyme disease, you should be aware that you may also be dealing with common co-infections such as Babesiosis, Ehrlichsiosis, or Bartonellosis. Get tested and treated for these additional inflictions, which can cause symptoms and impact the immune-system.

What are some of the problems associated with co-infections? Well, it begins with not even knowing that you might have them. Not all diagnostics labs are created equal. We admire the work that is being done at IGeneX. Here are some of the reasons why.

Same old Lyme-testing trouble
Nick S. Harris, PhD., of IGeneX laboratory in Palo Alto, CA, cautions that due to many factors, Lyme disease remains very complicated to correctly diagnose. Among the top reasons stated, infection does not show up the same in everybody. People all react differently. In addition, seralogical (blood) tests yield unreliable results because the Lyme bacteria is known for its stealth activity and it likes to hide. Lyme is weird (you heard it here). Even in a person with active disease, the bacteria are not always likely to be detectable in the blood. On top of that, antibodies may only be present for a short amount of time, making testing for Lyme bacterial infection a hit-and-miss affair at best.

Standard tests frequently flunk
If you go to your IDSA doctor, assuming you can convince them to test you for Lyme, he or she will give you the standard ELISA and Western Blot Lyme tests recommended by the CDC. What your doctor may or may not know is that these standard tests often fail to give positive diagnoses to patients, causing a chain of reaction wherein they are not made aware that they should begin proper treatment for the disease.

This frustrating scenario has been going on for years. Decades. Your doctor or doctors might also be smart enough to be paying attention to what many call the Lyme wars. They might recognize that while a positive blood test would be optimal, where Lyme is concerned, a clinical diagnosis is often the only way that doctors can observe your condition.

More sensitive testing required
IGeneX lab offers tests sensitive enough to detect the bacteria. For many Lyme patients, myself included, testing at IGeneX has signified the end of the mystery (do I have Lyme?), and the beginning of recovery.

Dr Harris recommends that “for patients presenting with clinical symptoms of Lyme Disease who test negative by the IgG or IgM Western Blot, the Whole Blood PCR or the LDA/Multiplex PCR Panel on urine may be appropriate. There are physician-developed antibiotic protocols to enhance the sensitivity of the LDA. In addition, there seems to be increased sensitivity of this test during the start of menses.”

IGeneX tests for Co-infections
IGeneX lab also offers tests for other tick-borne illnesses. The following info is from Dr Harris on their website:

“The tests are IFA (fluorescent antibody) or direct tests by PCR. In the case of
Babesia, FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridization) is also available. The FISH test detects the ribosomal RNA of the Babesia parasites directly on air-dried blood smears. This test is highly specific for Babesia, unlike the standard test, the geimsa stain smear, which cannot differentiate between malaria parasites and Babesia.”

Babesiosis Tests
B. Microti and/or WA-1 IgG/IgM Antibody Babesia and/or Babesia WA-1 PCR Babesia FISH (RNA)

Ehrlichiosis Tests
Human Granulocytic Ehrlichia IgG/IgM Antibody Human Granulocytic Ehrlichia PCR Human Monocytic Ehrlichia IgG/IgM AntibodyHuman Monocytic Ehrlichia PCR

Bartonella Tests
Bartonella henselae PCR with Whole Blood


New Bartonella Test
Across the country, another diagnostics lab has been working on a new test for Bartonella, and they want you to know about it so you can request it from your doctor. Galaxy Diagnostics in Research Triangle Park, NC, claims it has developed an even more sensitive test for Bartonella, using state-of-the-art molecular detection.

According to their literature, twenty-eight species of Bartonella have been identified so far, and new species are found every year.


Added cost, but better long-term health prognosis
Of course, testing for co-infections will likely add cost to your treatment plan. But it is important to know what obstacles you could be facing on the road back to good health.

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Yolanda Foster speaks about Lyme

"The light had gone off in my brain." Yolanda Foster speaks about Lyme.

“We live in the most extraordinary country, with the best doctors in the world. But the truth is, we don't have proper diagnostic testing,” Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Yolanda Foster told the audience at the Gala held for the Lyme Research Alliance on April 6. The LRA honored Foster with the Star Light Award, in recognition for her advocacy and for serving as a role model for people suffering with Lyme.

In her acceptance speech, Foster describes her frightening decline from “being an outspoken, multi-tasking social butterfly, to being trapped in a mentally paralyzed cocoon.” Doctors did not find any indication of Lyme disease in their standard blood tests, so they missed important clues. She knew something was wrong, intuiting that it may have been an infection in her brain. But doctor after doctor misdiagnosed her, advising her to cut back on her busy schedule. She was put on subscription drugs.

“Sleeping pills, Adderall, steroids, and anti-depressants,” she recalls, reciting the litany of drugs she was given. “[But] I was so
so not depressed,” she adds. Increasing frustration and annoyance were closer to the mark.

After a two-week stay at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles that achieved nothing, Foster returned home to bed. Hopeless, and believing that in her native Europe she might find a doctor to help, she to embarked on the long flight from California to Belgium. After a test showed spirochetes in her brain, she finally received a correct diagnosis of Lyme Neuroborreliosis and co-infections.

Thankfully, zeroing in on the pathology leads to treatment, but as anyone who has been through this crazy-making process knows, Lyme treatment is a double-edged sword. To begin with, it is not so cut and dry. And antibiotic therapy also causes Herxheimer reactions which can be as debilitating as the symptoms themselves. Friend Suzanne Somers led Foster to the Sponaugle Wellness Institute in Clearwater, Florida. Foster reluctantly left her family to go for a 6-week treatment. She reports that now she feels about 80% back to normal.

The LRA event raised more than $1 million to fund research for finding a cure for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Doctors Steven Schutzer, M.D., of the University of Medicine and Dentristy of New Jersey, and Mark Eshoo, Ph.D, director of new technology at Ibis Biosciences, were also honored at the Gala and received an award for their significant contribution in research and treatment in the quest to find a cure for Lyme.

Please watch Yolanda Foster's speech.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO8ZDvwTXKw

Interview with director of the Lyme Research Alliance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uDyb0NyRog



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New Lyme test available in Europe

A new test that detects the Borrelia infection is now available in Europe. I hope to find out whether this novel test will become available in the US anytime soon.

SpiroFind was developed in Mellrichstadt, Germany by the European subsidiary of Boulder Diagnostics, a privately owned company in Colorado that focuses on diagnosing diseases that are not reliably diagnosed.

The SpiroFind test detects Borreliosis through each stage, from early to late or chronic manifestation. It works by measuring the immune response to the Borrelia bacteria. Europeans may now contact the clinical laboratory, which is accepting blood samples for testing.

The effectiveness of the SpiroFind test was confirmed in a clinical study at the
Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands. Conclusions of the study have been submitted for peer-reviewed publication and presentation at a conference in Berlin, Germany in April 2013.

DNA Test in US Available
Another
new Lyme disease test, which tests DNA, became available in the US in 2010. I talked to Dr. Sin Hang Lee about this test, which is available in Milford, Connecticut. Patients and physicians interested in information on this DNA test may call George Poole, manager of Milford Medical Laboratory, at 203-876-4496.

New diagnostic tools give us hope for earlier and more effective treatment.


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Warm-weather ticks & Treatment strategy questioned

Surprisingly brisk bursts of wind scatter multi-colored leaves and shuttle herds of gray thunderheads across the sky. It’s Fall, arguably the most beautiful time of the year, at least in our nook of the SE. Still, when it comes to unwanted critters, awareness and prevention are the rule for venturing outdoors.

Warmer weather creates a haven for the tiny natural catastrophes we know as
ticks. In the Southeast, we may be advised that ticks don’t carry Lyme disease, but an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. A recent news clip from WXIA in Georgia attests to the rise in ticks, which may be due to the very warm weather much of the nation has endured over the course of 2012.

For prevention, the classic advice includes keeping on top of your pets’ tick and flea medications, and using caution outdoors. When you are outside, whether hiking, strolling through a neighborhood park, or preparing your garden for the season, don’t make yourself available for ticks. Start a fashion trend -- goodness knows it’ll keep the neighbors amused. Tuck your pants into the tops of your socks and wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to spot. Who says you can’t wear white after Labor Day?

Other prevention-strategies for the season: Make a tick-check a part of your post-outdoors routine. We can’t see our whole selves even in the mirror. Ask a family member to inspect the back of your head and your back. If they do find a tick -- have them remove it without damaging it (which can increase the risk of infection) and put it in a baggie, so it can be checked for the bacterial complex which causes Lyme and other diseases. Not all ticks carry the spirochete that causes Lyme.

We recommend sending it to
IGeneX Labs in Palo Alto, California. There are a few other labs around the country, which you can find through searching online.

Watch and wait? Or treat with doxy?
People who suspect that they’ve been bitten and infected by a tick have a couple of choices. One is to watch and wait. See your doctor, and be ready to treat symptoms aggressively if they arise. Symptoms can be extremely subtle, and they are mightily varied depending on your particular immune system response, general state of health, age and many other factors.

The other option is to begin antibiotic treatment immediately, with the most common drug used for Lyme, doxycycline. This approach, which is apparently based on only one case study, deserves scrutiny, according to ILADS doctor Elizabeth Maloney, who has
another view on the matter.

In her written testimony, she questions whether this now commonly-recommended prophylaxis strategy is sufficient to treat the borrelia infection. She states that it may indeed prevent the patient from getting the treatment they need, by hiding the symptoms of Lyme. Watching and waiting may be the wisest choice.



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Lyme Diagnostics

If you suspect you have Lyme, doctors can form a iagnosing Lyme Symptoms">diagnosis by your considering your symptoms, history and serology.  Most of the Lyme literate docs whom I have interviewed say they will start treatment on the basis of a clinical diagnosis, so the patients aren’t left waiting and wasting precious time before killing the Lyme bacteria.

Typical Lyme tests are the Western Blot, ELISA and PCR. However, these tests have limited clinical value. Only when the infection is active can the bacteria be measured and identified.

Lyme bacteria has survived throughout millennia because it has the ability to cloak itself and evade the human immune system. Therefore, it can be impossible to detect, using such serology tests.

Aside from a clinical diagnosis, there are some new approaches. A Wisconsin research and education company, NeuroScience, Inc, working in conjunction with an independent laboratory called Pharmasan Labs, Inc, have teamed up in the name of improved diagnostics for Lyme disease and other illnesses.

Dr. Gottfried Kellermann, CEO of NeuroScience, Inc. states on the company website: "It is my life mission to improve the lives of people through better science."

NeuroScience has created a diagnostic tool called My Immune ID-Lyme, which “utilizes the immune memory and cytokine alterations to identify any B burgdorferiexposure (current and/or past) and therefore identify Lyme disease even when B burgdorferi is successfully evading the host immune system or is currently dormant.”

If you’re able to communicate well with your doctor(s), encourage them to use newer, better ways to test for Lyme.

The next step, of course, is successful treatment.

Once you know you have Lyme, I encourage you to treat it from every angle: intentional, behavioral, social and cultural. This integral healing approach leaves no stone unturned. It includes body, mind, spirit and shadow.

For further information on treating Lyme from every angle, or  the cross-training approach, see the 100 Perspectives.

Be fearless in fighting Lyme and insist that your doctor is too.

Be well!
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Lyme Success Story! Treating every angle

Not too long ago, Jerry was preoccupied with his professional responsibilities and other commitments. Resolutely running the treadmill, he pursued his multiple roles as a husband, father and self-described Type A quite unconsciously.  But around May of 2010, he began “to feel really crummy.”  Not merely tired from work, he was exhausted. He ached all over, his glands were swollen and painful, he suffered headaches and disturbing muscle twitches.

At first he brushed it off as a bad flu and continued on his daily routines. He did not have a bull’s eye rash.  But then his symptoms took a turn for the worse, the muscle twitches increased and he felt he was losing control. He decided it was time to get tested for Lyme. The result was negative. However, test results were positive for an infection that typically accompanies Lyme: Ehrlichia. Antibiotic treatment began but he continued to feel worse, even taking Doxycycline. At that point, he took the initiative to search out a doctor in Minnesota who specialized in Lyme and could really help him.

Jerry found Dr. Karen Vrchota. She sent his blood to be tested by IGenEx, in Palo Alto, California. In addition to three co-infections, Ehrlichia, Bartonella and Babesia, Jerry was positively diagnosed with Lyme.  She recommended further treatment including some of Dr. Cowden’s protocol, such as Samento, Burbur and Parsley tinctures.

As Jerry worked with Dr. Vrchota, he branched out to discover many more proactive methods that would allow him to feel in charge of his own therapy. He realized that truly healing from Lyme disease demanded coming at it from every angle, not simply by taking antibiotics and herbal medicines. At the suggestion of Dr. Cowden, he focused on getting rid of the mercury, aluminum and other heavy metal poisons and toxins in his system. He adopted a new approach to exercise and nutrition. Following the advice of Dr. Burrascano, he began cardio as well as strength training exercises. He talks about the difference he began to feel as he focused on heating up the blood and getting it flowing. Spirochetes hate heat and cannot survive it. Therefore, physical exercise is super important to include in a Lyme disease protocol.

In his search for wellness, he has been seeking advice from experts in many fields, psychological as well as physical, spiritual as well as emotional. He feels confident that he’s now about 95% healed, and is eager to reach out and help others facing similar health challenges.

Over the past couple years, Lyme disease has become one of Jerry’s greatest teachers. He has rediscovered the simple joys -- tossing a ball with his kids, slowing down each day to practice mindfulness meditation and noticing life’s small blessings.

Hearing him tell his story, it’s easy to see that this once-Type-A person has a loving and generous heart.  You can sense that something in his nature has softened and profoundly changed and evolved.  He talked movingly about how he is now deeply committed to “giving something back,” and I’m really pleased to be able to share our recent conversation in our Lyme Success Stories series. You’ll hear him discuss the challenges he faced in getting properly diagnosed, his treatments, protocols, exercise routines, and the doctors and other experts who are guiding him as he turns his life around.  

Jerry has redefined the meaning of success in his life and feels endless gratitude for the things we tend to take too easily for granted. By approaching Lyme disease comprehensively and from every angle, his healing is happening on many levels of his life. Yours can too.

For additional information on healing Lyme from every angle, see Beat Lyme!

Join to listen to the interview.
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Educate & legislate: Sen. Charles Schumer on Lyme disease

Senator Charles Schumer in August, talking to the press about Lyme disease. His message is that we need to educate and legislate, and teach each other how to identify the symptoms early, before a treatable condition becomes a horrendous nightmare: chronic Lyme disease.

Schumer states that he is personally aware of the dangers of not treating Lyme disease immediately after contracting an infection. He says he was bit by a tick in the Hudson Valley, while inspecting a dam in the area. He sought medical treatment immediately, and says he was cured because it was caught early enough.

Senator Schumer’s comments, quoted from the Hudson Valley Insider, Aug 13, 2011:

“We need to bring Lyme disease and Babesiosis out of the weeds and better educate the public about how to keep themselves and their families’ safe,” said Schumer. “Lyme disease is a problem we’ve seen for decades, and Babesiosis is a recently growing issue in New York, but we haven’t done nearly enough at the federal level to tackle it. Tick-borne illnesses often go unnoticed for months, yet can be devastating for many victims and their families. The summertime brings about warm weather and school vacation, causing higher rates of infection in Ulster County and beyond.  The tick is a little pest that can pose a big problem, and this legislation would boost research of Lyme disease and Babesiosis and increase education and awareness in the community to better fight these diseases.”

Just for the record, Senator Schumer states that “20,000 Americans are infected with Lyme,” which is a misleading statement, and probably also a grossly underestimated number. Lyme experts estimate the number of infections to be approximately 10 times higher, more like 200,000 annual cases. Mangled facts aside, it’s always good to hear and see  an influential politician speaking out for Lyme awareness.

Educate and legislate!




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Link between Chronic Lyme and CFIDS

Even well into my so-called ‘normal’ post-Lyme life, there are days, such as this, when regular routine tasks -- preparing and cleaning up after a meal, writing an email, grocery shopping, seem unbearably exhausting. Friends I confide in say they have the same feelings and that it comes and goes. We attribute this to a variety of causes, hormones, diet, children, our jobs and just plain ol’ getting older. Illness is also suspect, especially for those of us who have battled with fatigue due to Chronic Lyme (aka neurologic post-Lyme), and/or the syndrome we call Chronic fatigue.

More studies are needed to examine the relationship between these two potentially devastating diseases. A dear friend and neighbor of mine, an aging Southern writer appeared astonishingly frail and weak, but whose wicked sense of humor never rested, died last year after struggling for many years with CFIDS. In spite of her failing health it always seemed that her role in our friendship was to make me laugh. She succeeded. Mine was to give her news about the steps being taken to find a cure to what ailed us. If I could get her updated address, I’d email this article to her this morning:

Possible links between Chronic Lyme and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, are under scrutiny of experts including Steven E Schutzer, MD, and Brian Fallon, MD, the Director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University.  

Scientists have discovered proteins in spinal fluid that can distinguish people with two mysterious illnesses that mimic each other — chronic fatigue syndrome and a kind of chronic Lyme disease.

Wednesday's study is small and needs verification. But specialists called it a promising start at clearing some of the confusion surrounding two illnesses with similar symptoms and no good means of diagnosis.

"It's a very important first step," said Dr. Suzanne Vernon of the Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America.

Lyme disease usually is cured with antibiotics, but some patients report pain, fatigue and memory or other neurologic problems that linger for months or years after treatment ends. This post-treatment Lyme disease shares symptoms that characterize chronic fatigue syndrome.

The new study analyzed spinal fluid from 25 of those chronic Lyme patients, 43 people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and 11 healthy people. Using a special high-powered technology, researchers detected more than 2,500 proteins in each group.

Read the abstract of the study here.

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New Lyme test for neuro symptoms

Like you, I've devoted a lot of my time and energy to figuring out how on earth to get better. "Be well" is my mantra, and I'm sure I'm not alone here. So when someone points me in the direction of research that's being done in the name of Lyme testing, I'm all ears. Here is something you might be interested in hearing more about as well: a new test for Lyme disease.

As we know, many people sick with a Lyme infection are routinely dismissed by medical doctors who aren't trained in diagnosing or treating Lyme as "crazy," or at best, "exaggerating." This type of reductive response from medical professionals can really sting. Nothing like being kicked while you're down, and from the very people you have turned to for help. I know how it hurts, and I've experienced firsthand the fearsome mental disorientation that this disease can cause.

I remember hearing my (deceased) father clearly saying my name. I jerked my head in the direction of his voice, fully expecting to see him standing next to me.  I remember hearing the phone ringing, ringing, ringing, and each time I picked up, a little girl on the other end pleading to talk with someone whose name I did not know, someone who she swore lived there. I recall sitting in a chair all day for one entire day, afraid to move, practically afraid to breathe, for fear that movement would make the utter despair I felt inside even worse. It felt like standing, during an earthquake, on the brink of insanity, where even one small tremor would send me tumbling into the chasm below.

But I wasn't crazy. I had Lyme. I had an infection that was affecting my brain, and that's all. And I have gotten better. I continue to heal, and of course that is also my deepest desire for you. So what about this new test?

Evidently, there are neurological manifestations that have non-neurological root causes.  It is important that doctors understand this when dealing with patients who present with neurological difficulties and challenges.  The new Lyme test is capable of assessing whether someone has had "an immune response to the Lyme disease bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and whether the infection is currently active."

The test has been developed by Pharmasan Labs, Inc. in collaboration with NeuroScience, Inc.

From their website:

NeuroScience, Inc., by virtue of its name, has its foundations built on understanding the nervous system. Our understanding of the nervous system has led us to a point where, from a biochemical point of view, we must further consider the role hormones, cytokines, and neurotransmitters play, not as the messengers of individual systems, but rather as parts of a much larger picture. Our goal is to embrace a more global perspective on health that incorporates facets of neurology, immunology, and endocrinology. This newly emerging field has been defined as “neuroimmunology” and it forces us to rethink our approach to health and disease. Our adoption of the principles of neuroimmunology have resulted in an expanded menu of laboratory services that now include a wide spectrum of neurological, endocrinological, and immunological markers.

There are a lot of big words in that paragraph. Don't let them put you off. I think this test, this lab, may be onto something very important here. I'm looking forward to talking with their scientists very soon. Stay tuned for an interview, and meantime read up about their new Lyme test (and how you might use it), on their website.

Be well.
Think positively.
We can get better.



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NIH develops more sensitive test for Lyme disease

Reported in the June, 2010 issue of Clinical and Vaccine Immunology:

New Test May Simply and Rapidly Detect Lyme Disease

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have developed a more sensitive test for Lyme disease that may offer earlier detection and lower cost. The details are reported in the June 2010 issue of the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to animals and humans by deer ticks. A skin lesion at the site of the bite is one of the first signs of infection followed by potential neurological, cardiac, and rheumatological complications upon entering the bloodstream. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends a two-step blood test for diagnosing the disease, however, several limitations include low sensitivity during the early stages of infection, significant time and expense, and an inability to distinguish between active and prior infection.
In prior studies the luciferase immunoprecipitation system (LIPS) test showed promise at detecting a variety of infectious agents including viral and fungal pathogens. Here, LIPS was evaluated for its ability to detect antibody responses to Borrelia burgdorferi proteins in blood samples taken from a patient group (some healthy and some with Lyme disease) as well as a control group. Results showed that diagnostic levels of 98% to 100% were achieved using LIPS in conjunction with the synthetic protein VOVO.

"These results suggest that screening by the LIPS test with VOVO and other B. burgdorferi antigens offers an efficient quantitative approach for evaluation of the antibody responses in patients with Lyme disease," say the researchers.

(P.D. Burbelo, A.T. Issa, K.H. Ching, J.I. Cohen, M.J. Iadarola, A. Marques. 2010. Rapid, simple, quantitative, and highly sensitive antibody detection for Lyme disease. Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, 17. 6: 904-909.)
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Want a Lyme test that looks for antigens?

"We have to go on," says Tom. "We can't change yesterday, but the thing that keeps us going is that sooner or later we're going to catch that bug in time, and save someone from going through this pain."

Tom was sick and suffering with mysterious symptoms for nine years before a test finally convinced one of his doctors that he did indeed have Lyme disease. At that point, he began taking antibiotics. In the first month, severe Herxheimer reactions made him even more ill than he had been without treatment, but he continued for five months. Three years later, he now feels better in most ways. Occasionally, he has bad days that he attributes to the Lyme bug, but feels that for the most part, it is suppressed.

"I thought I was dying," he says. Hit by a massive anxiety attack while driving through Kansas, he experienced such debilitating vertigo that he had to pull the car over to the side of the road. "Everything was spinning wildly around me."

"I had lost track of the number of doctors I went to for help over those nine years. One doctor in Massachusetts, who I knew thought I was crazy finally told me that he thought I was crazy. He told me there was nothing wrong with me, and recommended psychiatric help."

"He told me that he thought I was an 'attention-seeker'."

I said to him, "Look, doc. I'm a concert pianist and a concert organist. If I want attention, all I have to do is book a recital. I don't need attention from you."

The test that finally clinched the correct diagnosis for Tom is a special kind of technique called Flow Cytometry. It is available at the Central Florida Research Laboratory, located in Winter Haven, FL. Instead of looking for the antibodies that build up in response to a Lyme Borreliosis infection, the Flow Cytometry technique finds the Borreliosis antigens directly.

Since Spring 2007, the CFR lab has tested several thousand people for Lyme disease. Blood samples arrive from locations all over the globe,  including all over Europe, where Lyme disease is known simply as Borreliosis.

In addition to testing people, CFR also tests animals for Lyme. Please refer to the CFR website for more information about the Flow Cytometric Lyme test for pets and people.

Central Florida Research Laboratory
Winter Haven, FL
Medical Director: Clifford H Threlkeld, DO, FCAP
Phone Number: (863) 299-3232
Fax Number: (863) 299-3355
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New Lyme test for early detection

Here's a piece of good news. If you live in the Lyme-endemic region of Milford, CT, you have a new option for testing. And -- unless you have Aetna -- your insurance plan should cover it.

Pathologist Sin Hang Lee, MD, and his team have developed a DNA test for early Lyme detection. Details are available in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology. The test is the first of its kind. I recently talked with Dr Lee about the new test, which has been in use at the Milford Hospital for about one year.

Early detection is extremely important. People who are diagnosed with Lyme in the early stage have a good chance of receiving treatment that will cure them, and they will have no further complications from the disease. The DNA test eliminates the false positives that are problematic in the traditional Lyme tests, specifically the Western Blot and the ELISA.

The test is good news for people in the Milford area who suspect they've been bitten by a tick. Reports from other regions in the NE, such as Portland, Maine, are already warning of an increase in tick bites this year.


According to the announcement of the new DNA Lyme test, "physicians at the Milford Hospital Emergency Center and Walk-in Urgent Care Center, who see about 40,000 patients a year, usually order the traditional antibody testing and the new DNA test for patients presenting with Lyme disease-like symptoms. Most insurance companies except Aetna will pay for the test."

Patients and physicians interested in information on this DNA test may call George Poole, manager of Milford Medical Laboratory, at 203-876-4496.

Listen to our interview with Dr. Sin Hang Lee about the Lyme DNA test.
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Bring testing into the 21st century

How many times have you wondered why the flawed technology of the Western blot and the ELISA are still the standard test for Lyme? Hasn't anyone figured out a better, more sensitive test by now? New research is being done with twenty-first century technology, such as genomics and proteomics. More sensitive tests mean that greater numbers of people infected with borrelia would have a chance to begin treatment before Lyme enters the later stages. A person who tested negative for Lyme with the Western blot may actually test positive when tested for certain protein markers.

Pamela Weintraub, author of
Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic, and senior editor at Discover Magazine, pulls no punches in a recent post about the IDSA's choice of panelists. The panel that has been assembled seems likely to merely reaffirm the old guard, and not consider new University-based scientific research.

"As someone who has traveled the country for six years interviewing these scientists to write my book,
Cure Unknown, I can tell you unequivocally that many of the top researchers at the top institutions in the world do not think the original IDSA panel got it right," writes Pamela.

"Are recommended treatment protocols truly curing most of those with early, invasive borreliosis, as IDSA contends?"

"The answers won’t be found in the twentieth-century technology of the Western blot, by today’s standards crude yet still trotted out by IDSA as evidence absolute that they are right. (The Western blot for Lyme is so flawed that even its major manufacturer says he has found numerous "band" patterns more accurate than the one in use today.) Instead of relying on flawed 20th century technology, we must look to the science of the twenty-first century, including state-of-the-art genomics and proteomics that allows for the sequencing of every gene and protein involved in every stage of Lyme. With evidence of this calibre we won't have to fight over the truth: We will know what's going on."


Stay tuned for more LDRD interviews with top researchers, such as Dr. Eva Sapi of the University of New Haven. Dr. Sapi directs the graduate studies program for research into Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
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Lyme tests are inaccurate

Raphael Stricker, MD, talked with me last week about the pros and cons of the existing Lyme tests. As it turns out, there are mostly cons.

Dr. Stricker was the president of ILADS from 2005 to 2007, during which time the organization grew to nearly 400 members and accomplished a great deal of work on the behalf of Lyme patients, including the establishment of the guidelines for the treatment of Lyme.

The Western Blot and the ELISA tests are inaccurate. "They have 'coin toss sensitivity,'" Stricker says. "Which means if you flip a coin you get the same results as doing a commercial test.

"The current AIDS test has a 99.5% sensitivity, which means it misses one in two hundred AIDS cases. So, compare one out of every two Lyme cases that are missed? One in two hundred AIDS cases. I mean, that's a pretty big difference," he says. "What we need in Lyme disease is a test like the AIDS test, that is that sensitive, and that accurate."

You can listen to the interview as a member, please join
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