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A new tool could one day improve Lyme disease diagnosis

‘Fingerprint’ test distinguishes between two easily confused tick-borne illnesses

By
4:10pm, August 16, 2017
black-legged tick on the left, lone star tick on the right

TICK TIMES TWO It can be difficult to correctly diagnose tick-borne diseases in locales with both the black-legged tick (left), which spreads Lyme disease, and the lone star tick (right), which can transmit southern tick‒associated rash illness or STARI.

A new testing method can distinguish between early Lyme disease and a similar tick-borne illness, researchers report. The approach may one day lead to a reliable diagnostic test for Lyme, an illness that can be challenging to identify.

Using patient blood serum samples, the test accurately discerned early Lyme disease from the similar southern tick‒associated rash illness, or STARI, up to 98 times out of 100. When the comparison also included samples from healthy people, the method accurately identified early Lyme disease up to 85 times out of 100, beating a commonly used Lyme test’s rate of 44 of 100, researchers report online August 16 in Science Translational Medicine. The test relies on clues found in the rise and fall of the abundance of molecules that play a role in the body’s immune response.

“From a diagnostic perspective, this may be very helpful,

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