The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.
At this time, routine screening for Lyme disease is not recommended if you have no symptoms.
The following diagnostic tests may be used in certain situations, such as when a person has no symptoms, but has had an attached tick for some length of time (48 hours or more).
Antibodies are the body’s defense against an infection. If you have been infected with the Lyme disease bacteria, your body will make specific antibodies to fight it. It takes about four weeks or more for these antibodies to become detectable. Examples include:
Both of these tests can have false negative results (the test is negative even though you are infected) or false positive results (the test is positive even though you are not infected).
Reasons why false negatives may occur include:
Reasons why false positives may occur include:
These tests look directly for the bacteria, or pieces of it, in the blood and other fluids of the body, such as urine and spinal fluid. Two main types are:
Lyme disease. Lyme Disease Foundation website. Available at: http://www.lyme.org/otherdis/ld.html . Accessed October 5, 2008.
We want you to know about Lyme disease: it's difficult to diagnose. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/consumer/lymedisease.html . Updated July 1999. Accessed October 5, 2008.
Last reviewed December 2014 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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