Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lyme test bands - Western Blot

Here's a little info about Lyme disease testing. This appeared on the CA Lyme Disease listserv, Nov 13, 2012.

The Western Blot documents immune response to a specific bacteria. In this
case, it is the response to Borrelia, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Some bands will react with more than one bacteria, such as Band 41. It will
react to any bacteria that has a flagella. Band 31 is specific to Borrelia.
If you immune system is reacting to an antigen specific to Borrelia, that
indicates exposure to Borrelia. An immune system has to be pretty healthy
to respond with 5 bands; so if your immune system is stressed or the
bacteria is in hiding, there may not be a strong enough response to show an
official positive result. If you react on any one band that is specific to
Borrelia and you have symptoms consistent with Lyme disease, a knowledgeable
doc will diagnose you with Lyme disease. A less knowledgeable doc or one
who has his head somewhere besides medicine will say you don't have Lyme
disease because you don't have enough bands.

That is why a culture is very good at showing the less knowledgeable docs
direct evidence of infection. If you can culture the bacteria directly, you
have proof of infection; whereas a Western Blot is indicating a response to
an infection that may or may not be present. Somebody could theoretically
get bitten by a tick and have a strong immune response and clear the
infection; yet test positive on a Western Blot because the immune response
was strong enough. Such an individual would probably not have any symptoms
of illness.

If you want more evidence, get a culture done by Advanced Lab in New Jersey.

Anne Mears, RN, MSN/IH

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