An abnormal, or
positive, test for Lyme disease can mean one of the following:
If antibodies are found, you may either have
Lyme disease now or had the illness in the past. Once you have a Lyme disease
infection, antibodies to the bacteria will usually stay in your body for the
rest of your life.
If Lyme disease bacteria DNA is found, you probably have an
active Lyme disease infection.
It may be hard to tell if you have Lyme
disease. False-positive and false-negative Lyme disease test results are
common. Many people do not make antibodies to Lyme disease bacteria for up to 8
weeks after being infected.
When an ELISA test is positive, a
Western blot test is usually done to confirm the diagnosis of Lyme
Doctors often do not rely on test results alone when
recommending treatment for a person who may have Lyme disease. Treatment is
often based on a person's
symptoms, the time of year, having a tick bite, and
risk factors for Lyme disease.
antibodies to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease does not always mean that an
active Lyme disease infection is causing your symptoms. It only means that you
were infected at one time.
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Lyme disease. In LK Pickering, ed., Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 28th ed., pp. 430–435. Elk Grove, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2011). Lyme Disease: A history of Lyme disease, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Available online: www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/lymeDisease/understanding/Pages/intro.aspx.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.