The challenge of diagnosing Lyme disease

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Introduction

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Lyme disease is caused by the spirochete bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) which is transmitted to humans through the black-legged tick bite. This condition is extremely serious and very challenging to overcome. Many researchers believe that Lyme disease may be one of the most overlooked and underdiagnosed health conditions in the world.

There are 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year, making it the fastest-growing infectious disease in the United States. The typical symptoms associated with Lyme include fever, constant headaches, chronic fatigue and a skin rash called erythema migrans. If the Lyme goes untreated, it can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system, and ultimately be fatal.

The challenges with chronic Lyme:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not recognize the existence of chronic Lyme. In these conditions, the erythema migrans is no longer visable or may have never developed, and the individual oftentimes does not recall a tick bite. Studies have shown that less than 50% of patients recall the tick bite.

Chronic Lyme affects every system of the body and is very similar to fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. It can also progress deeper into the nervous system and create symptoms associated with Parkinson's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis.

The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) is made up of progressive doctors who are well versed in the Lyme literature. The ILADS recognizes and is working to bring awareness to the true prevalence ofin our society. This organization estimates that most chronic Lyme suffers experience a level of disability equivalent to one who has suffered a recent heart attack.

The problem with common Lyme testing:

The CDC-approved Lyme-testing protocol involves an initial enzyme immunoassay (EIA). The most common of these are the "ELISA" (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and "ELFA" (enzyme-linked fluorescent immunoassay). Thesecertain antibodies to the Bb bacterium.

If the EIA test is negative, then the CDC recommends no further testing. If the EIA is positive or equivocal, then the second step, which is an immunoblot test or "Western blot" test, is performed. The results are only considered positive if both the EIA and Western blot are positive for the bacterium.

These tests are insufficient though and have a high incidence of false negatives. This is because theitself suppresses the immune system and the antibody production. Many Lyme researchers believe that Bb can also hide in the brain and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). The Bb alters its proteins to remain invisible to the immune system. Once the immune system figures it out, it is able to shift its surface proteins again, which fools the immune system into believing that the infection is over.

Bb also has the ability to morph itself into undetectable cysts and L forms which elude the immune system. The immune system is dependent upon proper recognition and antibody formation, and this is why one may have the disorder without detectable antibodies on a blood test.

Best Lyme testing available:

Many in the natural health world believe that the CDC testing procedures are flawed and result in many false negatives. The EIA is not sensitive and specific enough to make a good . The Western blot is much more sensitive and specific, but the amount of antibody bands that must be present is too high.

Some other tests that incorporate more thorough analysis and tighter findings on the Western blot have been put together. These tests also analyze the blood and urine for actual traces of the Bb organism. These seem to be the best current testing practices for the presence of Lyme. Research is also being conducted on determining the accuracy and reliability of a direct Lyme culture.

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Originally posted at:

http://www.naturalnews.com/044812_Lyme_disease_diagnosis_ticks.html