Why Lyme Tests aren’t always accurate

Lyme Titer

A Lyme titer looks for antibodies in the blood. These antibodies can mean that you have a current or past infection. The results can be positive, negative or equivocal. An equivocal result should be repeated in two to four weeks to see if there is any change.

 Reasons for false negatives

  •  The test may have been done before the body has had a chance to make antibodies.
  •  Antibiotics taken in the early stage of the disease may prevent a person from ever making antibodies.
  • If the test is taken after a course of antibiotics there may be a decrease in the level of antibodies present.

Note: With this test you can also have a false positive because antibodies to other infections may look similar to Lyme Disease antibodies a “false positive” result may occur.

  • Reasons for false positives
  • Infectious Mononucleosis (esp. Lyme IgM)
  • Rheumatologic conditions (esp. Lyme IgM)
  • Prior Lyme vaccine “LYMErix”
  • Cross reactivity with Treponema infection, Yaws, Syphillis, and Relapsing Fever

More Specifically:

Elisa Test

The Elisa is a test based on detecting the antibodies that our bodies make in response to being exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi.

The problems with this test:

  •  This test is reported to only be 55% accurate.
  • Borrelia species are polymorphic which means they can change their surface proteins enough during cell division so that our immune system, which may differ from laboratory strains enough to result in a false negative, even if antiBb antibodies are present.

Western Blot The Western Blot


The first antibody our body makes in response to a foreign invader is immunoglobulin type M, (IGM). This antibody takes between two to four weeks to be made in quantities large enough to be measured. For best results you should test four weeks after exposure to an antigen. This antibody will only be in circulation for around six months. After this time period the levels of antibodies will probaboy be too low to detect. If infection persists, this antibody can also persist. A person who consistently has detectable IgM levels is typically chronically ill, but its absence is not a reliable indicator that you don’t have an infection.

The problem with this test:

  •  Many drs do not know when to test. Timing is everything with a IgM. Drs may tell you it is negative and tell you that you don’t have lyme, even though it’s still possible you do.


The IgG tests for the second antibody we make after exposure. This antibody can take up to eight weeks to form, and disappears within the first year. It will peak at about six weeks. This antibody is what can cross the placenta, making it possible that an infected mother can pass this antibody to her child. This antibody lasts the longest and is the soldier of the immune system. It is what attacks viruses, bacteria, yeast, toxins, and transplants. The IgG antibody kills bacteria by tagging the foreign invaders for destruction by the killer T-cells. It also can kill the bacteria directly forming a series of enzymes and proteins that will dissolve the intruder.

Problems with this test

  • Unfortunately many of the important Lyme specific bands were removed from this test after people who received the LYMEerix vaccine were testing positive to Lyme Tests after receiving the vaccination.

To read a more details explanation of why these tests are not accurate click here: http://www.lymenet.de/labtests/brenner.htm

This webpage lists several research papers attributed to persistance of Lyme and relevant to testing: http://www.lymenet.de/literatur/niches.htm#Schutzer SE, Coyle PK, Belman AL, Golightly MG, Drulle J 1990

Understanding Lyme Tests  http://www.squidoo.com/understanding-lyme-tests

Spinal  Taps

 Looking for more information on the accuracy of these.



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