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 disease.
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 other risk factors for Lyme disease.
Finding 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 (2008). Lyme Disease: The Facts, the Challenge (NIH Publication No. 08-7041). Available online: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/lymeDisease/Documents/lymedisease.pdf.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerChristine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology