This test is used to detect the presence of infection of Borrelia burgdorferi (an infectious bacteria). It detects the antibodies produced by the immune system against the bacteria and is generally used as a confirmatory test for the presence of Lyme disease. Two types of antibodies (IgG and IgM) are detected through this test to detect the presence of initial or previous infection. The common symptoms of this disease are pain in muscles, joints and head, fatigue, blue rash, fever and chills, stiffness of neck and weakness in arms and facial muscles.
In addition to the symptoms described, you should also watch out for a bull’s-eye type of rash. It has a central red circle which is the site of the tick bite, and another bigger, red circle that surrounds it, the skin in between pale.
Untreated Lyme disease can cause serious neurological complications such as Bell’s Palsy,meningitis, encephalitis, incoordination of movements, confusion, changes in mood, inability to concentrate, and loss of memory. It could also cause myocarditis.
If these symptoms are present, you need to get a Lyme disease antibody test as soon as possible, so diagnosis may be made and proper treatment regimen may be started.
How to Prepare for a Lyme Disease and Western Blot Test?
No fasting is required prior to performing a Lyme disease test.
A blood sample will be drawn from your arm to check for Lyme disease antibodies. If, however, you are already presenting with neurological symptoms, cerebrospinal fluid sample may also be drawn. In this type of Lyme disease testing, you will be asked to curl up in a fetal position to expose your back. Local anesthesia will be applied on the area to numb it, before insertion of a special needle that would collect the CSF.
Another, more definitive, type of test is the Lyme Disease Western Blot test which looks for IgM as well as IgG antibodies specific for Lyme disease (Borrelia antibodies). This is also done via a blood sample.
What the Results Mean?
A normal Lyme disease blood test results will reveal negative Borrrelia antibodies for Lyme disease.
However, if your test revealed positive IgM and IgG antibodies and positive Lyme Disease Western Blot test, then you likely have the infection. If results came back negative for IgM but positive for IgG and Western Blot, then you have had the infection.
Common Lyme Disease and Western Blot Test Questions
Where can I get more information for Lyme disease treatment?
You can ask your physician about it, or you can also visit trusted websites like the Centers for Disease and Prevention for more info.
Is Lyme disease preventable?
Definitely. Using insect repellant and wearing closed shoes when you’re out in the woods can help. Making sure that your pets and farm animals are tick-free will also help. If you see any ticks attached to your clothes or skin, remove it immediately so it won’t have time to bite.
I don’t have any of the symptoms but have been bitten by a tick, should I get the Lyme Disease antibody test?
Yes, you still may. However, you should be aware of false-positive results since not all ticks are carriers of the Borrelia bacteria. If ever you’ve been bitten by one, it will take a day or two for the tick to transmit the bacteria, so if you were able to remove it immediately, then your risks for being infected are lower.
Is there a way for ticks to be checked for Lyme disease?
Yes. This is now being done by health departments, both local and state. Not only do they test the tick for the bacteria, but they also identify the type of tick that carries the bacteria.
Please explain what a Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome is.
If symptoms of Lyme Disease persist for more than half a year despite a two or four-week course of antibiotic treatment, then it is called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. If this happens, get in touch with your doctor for symptom management.
LabEspy recommends Ulta Lab Tests, Lab Testing API, Personalabs for this test.