NB: Tick Talk Ireland has no ties with or recommend any particular option – we have listed alternative labs for information only. As always it is best to work with your own GP with any health concerns you may have.
Disclaimer, please note that mainstream consultants may ‘not’ accept overseas tests as they are encouraged to use only UK & Irish 2 tier tests (Elisa & Western Blot). Therefore the details posted below are for your information only.
There are many types of testing for Lyme inc the following:
1: The general Elisa test through your GP. Word of warning – this has a low sensitivity rate and can produce false negatives. Although I suggest this as a first line of testing I do recommend to people that a negative result may not necessarily mean you don’t have Lyme.
Per the guidelines from the test kit manufacturer (PDF) https://ticktalkireland.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/elisa-trinity-vise.pdf
“The diagnosis of Lyme disease should be made based on history and symptoms (such as erythema migrans), and other laboratory data, in addition to the presence of antibodies to B. burgdorferi. Negative results (either first or second-tier) should not be used to exclude Lyme disease. High Complexity Test. Patients in the early stage of disease and a portion of patients with late manifestations may not have detectable antibodies. Serologic tests have been shown to have low sensitivity and specificity and, therefore, cannot be relied upon for establishing a diagnosis of Lyme disease.”
A secondary test should be offered after a positive or borderline Elisa which is considered more specific, however this second test known as Western Blot or Immunoblot is often not offered if the first test is inconclusive. Strains of bacteria, length of time since the tick bite, plus early antimicrobial treatment as well as a hampered immune system can all affect results.
So, if Elisa is insensitive what other methods can you try? There are some labs. in the U.S. such as Igenex Labs who test for Lyme. I have listed below three labs. in Germany as the courier fees are much cheaper to send to Europe. Details as follows:
P.S.For those seeking in-depth knowledge on Western Blots we have a spreadsheet comparing lab test criteria across various labs (Igenex, CDC, European MiQ 12 2000 + current testing methods at Porton Down UK) – results can depend on types of band & number of bands being allowed before the cut off.
NB: Elisa v WB is covered also in our main site below at:
2: Melisa LTT (this test is for antigens not antibodies and considered far more accurate, particularly with regards to an active ongoing infection). They have a UK office who will send a test kit out to you, plus an application form. You would need to arrange for the bloods to be drawn at your local GP office early in the week and arrange for fedex to courier them for you. The London office will give you the fedex account number to use and details of how to arrange for fedex pickup. (To ensure your package is sent promptly, it may be worth dropping it directly at a fedex depot and write “Urgent – next day delivery” on it!) Melisa will then bill you for the test and courier fees and will give you results within 10 days. The website for more information is as follows:
3: BCA/Infectolab – another lab. in Germany which does an amazing array of different tests regarding Lyme and its various co-infections. An important test to consider is the CD57 test which is a test developed to show immune suppression in chronic Lyme cases. For instance, results of over 100 (using the German Lab criteria) is considered a healthy immune system, results below this show immunity problems caused by Lyme and possibly other co-infections, and treatment should be continued until this normalises to prevent relapse.
B-C-A Betriebs GmbH & Co. KG Morellstraße 33 · 86159 Augsburg, Germany. Phone + 49 821 4550740 Fax + 49 821 4550741
NB: Low CD57 results are more indicative of chronic Lyme and would not be considered suitable for a more recent infection. Please note, it is not specific to Lyme disease & cannot be considered diagnostic as a standalone test but may be useful in combination with other tests being performed.
*Added May 2015 –
4: Armin Labs – this is a new lab created by Armin Schwarzbach (who previously worked with BCA Germany). Similar to Infectolabs, this lab can test for borreliosis using a combination of Western Blot (antibody tests), Elispot (T cell tests) & CD57 NK markers. Also tests for multiple tick-borne co-infections.
Armin Labs Zirbelstraße 58, 2nd floor 86154 Augsburg, Germany. Phone +49 821 218 2879 Fax +49 821 218 3081
P.S Both Arminlabs & BCA Labs can offer patients a co-infection check list for those who feel that other infections may be at play (treatment may differ depending on which infection you may have). The co-infection check list can help rank which tests to go for based on your symptoms..
To learn more about co-infections go to: https://ticktalkireland.wordpress.com/lyme-links/co-infections/
5: Lastly, some people opt to use Lyme literate doctors for their testing in the UK. You would have someone check you over, ask questions about your history and then suggest further testing for you. One place to try is the Breakspear Hospital
Another ‘maybe’ is to see if you react to antibiotics. If your doctor is willing to try you on high dose doxycycline per Joseph Burrascano (recommended dose is 400mg – see guide below for more details) and you worsen this may be a sign of bacterial die off, which could show that your health problems are indicative of bacterial, rather than the post viral problems often associated with ME.
Some more useful links:
Is it Lyme or ME?
Issues on Testing PDF
Articles on testing (in depth)
Reasons for Lyme seronegativity
Burrascano’s guide on treating and diagnosing Lyme
Some future developments – a 2 year EU funded project to design a novel ‘lab on a chip’ test called Hilysens*.
For more details go to: http://www.hilysens.eu/index
Updated Nov 2015
*Pls Note: Hilysens ”II’ project is now under way (details & a video available at):