• If you find a tick on your body and have not already done so, remove the tick properly as shown on the "about Lyme" page.
  • Call or email me and I will see you as promptly as possible.
  • Avoid another tick bite by treating your yard and outdoor clothes as described on this site.
  • Educate yourself. Knowledge about Lyme and co-infections is growing daily, and we are learning new things all the time. Check my Links page which will keep you abreast.
  • Subscribe to my mailing list here for useful updates and come back often to check my blog entries on topics of current interest.
  • Stay safe and healthy!

The Limits of Tick Testing

While there are now several laboratories which offer tick testing services, I have heard of people not getting treated for high risk tick bites while awaiting the results, or because the tick tested negative.

I think it’s important to note that we don’t have the science to make the decision to treat a human being based upon the results of tick-testing. Many colleagues of mine do not recommend this at all. I think it can be useful, if it is positive. It is very difficult to identify some of the co-infections in human beings, and while finding them in ticks is no easy business, if the tick is positive for a co-infection, that gives us a good idea that being aggressive in treating before the infection gets established.

It’s great if Bartonella, for example, can be identified in a tick within a few weeks of being you being infected with it, rather than risking it establish itself in hard-to-reach places in the body. But just because a tick is negative for Borrelia, does not mean it was not infective, and high risk bites should be treated regardless of whether or not the organism was found in it.

Like other tests for Lyme, a positive result is more useful than a negative one.

Some good reasons you don’t want to put off a consultation

  1. Not everyone who contracts Lyme disease will develop the "characteristic" bull’s eye rash. Estimates range from as few as 27% to as many as 80%. (Literature review on Lyme.org)
  2. Laboratory testing is outdated and misses at least 40% of cases, whether someone has a bull’s eye rash or a chronic case of Lyme disease. (Rebman et al., 2014Fallon et al., 2014Johnson & Stricker, 1997)
  3. More than a third of patients will fail standard antibiotic treatment if they wait long enough for the classic rash to appear and will go on to suffer chronic symptoms of Lyme disease. (Aucott [Johns Hopkins] 2013aAucott [Johns Hopkins] 2013b)
  4. 1.5 million patients currently suffer from post-treatment symptoms, outnumbering the 1.2 million living with HIV. (Hook et al, 2013,SpiroChicks.com, 2014)
  5. Two-thirds of chronic Lyme patients changed their work status to accommodate their illness: Forty-two percent stopped work, and another quarter reduced their work hours or modified their job to accommodate their illness. (Johnson, 2014)
  6. Most insurance companies refuse to pay for curative treatment after 30 days.
  7. Most Lyme patients must seek non-covered care.
  8. 43% of chronic Lyme patients spend more than $5,000 out-of-pocket per year for non-covered care, compared to 6% of the general population. (Johnson, 2014)
  9. Patients with chronic Lyme disease feel unrested 20.3 of 30 days a month, “significantly exceeding the number of unrested days reported by those with cancer (12.5).” (Johnson, 2014)
  10. Quality of Life studies show patients with chronic Lyme score worse than patients with diabetes, heart disease, depression, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. On a measure of fatigue, patients with chronic Lyme scored considerably worse than patients with ALS or MS. (Klempner, Cameron, Fallon, Krupp and others, 1994 – 2012; ILADS Guidelines, 2014)
  11. Eleven percent of Lyme disease patients will be rendered disabled by post-treatment symptoms, creating at least 30,000 new disabilities per year. (Aucott et al, 2013)
  12. The direct and indirect costs of Lyme disease may approach $100 billion per year. (Spirochicks.com, 2014; updating Maes et al, 1998)
  13. Lyme disability payments alone could cost taxpayers almost half a billion per year. (Spirochicks.com, 2014)
  14. Lyme disease makes up a half percent of the NIH 2014 infectious diseases budget. HIV/AIDS accounts for three-fifths of the $5 billion infectious diseases budget. (NIH, 2014)
  15. There are about 13,000 published studies on Lyme disease, about the same as for acne. There are more than 350,000 papers on HIV or AIDS and around 3 million papers on cancer. (PubMed, 2014)

(Thanks to Alix Mayer for allowing me to share her research: www.spirochicks.com)