Lyme Disease Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

A Lyme disease test is done to find out the antibodies to the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which spreads the Lyme disease. These bacteria are known to spread ticks.

It is difficult to diagnose Lyme disease because the symptoms of this disease are similar to other illnesses. If you feel that you have Lyme disease, then the doctor will conduct a physical examination and look at your medical history. A Lyme disease blood test and antibody tests are carried out to identify Lyme disease.

Tests to Detect Lyme Disease

Here are a few tests that are conducted in order to detect Lyme disease.

Antibody tests

These are common tests that are carried out to identify Lyme disease. This test can be done on a sample of fluid from a joint or the spine. However, antibodies might take more than two months to be detected in a blood test. But once the antibodies have been formed, they stay on in your body for several years, even after the disease has been treated successfully. There are three types of antibody tests:

ELISA test for Lyme disease

ELISA stands for Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. This test helps to screen for Lyme disease.

Indirect fluorescent antibody or IFA: This test is done to screen for the Lyme disease antibodies.

Western blot test

This is another test to check for Lyme disease antibodies, and is often used to confirm the findings of the IFA or ELISA test. This test is carried out to check for chronic infection.

Polymerase chain reaction test or PCR test

This test is done to detect the DNA of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. If your symptoms of Lyme disease have not subsided even after taking antibiotics for the same, you may be asked to undergo a PCR test. This test is not done very frequently because it needs expensive equipment and technical skill.

Skin culture

Through a tissue sample, a skin culture is obtained to check for the bacteria that causes this disease. It generally takes many weeks to get the results of the skin culture.

Reasons to conduct Lyme Disease Test

A Lyme disease test is generally done to check for Lyme disease in people. If someone shows any symptoms, then tests are carried out to check for the disease. Some of the symptoms that you should watch out for include –

  • A red rash that has a pale centre and keeps expanding
  • Extreme exhaustion and fever
  • Stiff neck and headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Problems with the nerves, brain, and heart