Helsinki, June 16, 2015

How is lyme disease diagnosed? By a positive blood test performed 6-8 weeks after being bitten by a tick and developing an erythema migrans rash, according to Finnish doctors. By a clinical diagnosis, the LLMDs (Lyme Literal Medical Doctors) say.

The clinical diagnosis given by an LLMD is based on the following factors:

  • risk of infection – living in an area with a high occurrence of ticks, the patient being engaged in outdoor activities, aso.
  • possible tick bite, possible erythema migrans – 50% of people with lyme don’t recall being bitten by a tick. 50% of people with lyme never develop erythema migrans.
  • Symptoms – the physical and mental hardship and problems described by the patient
  • physical exam findings
  • supportive testing

Why isn’t a positive test result the decisive factor when it comes to LLMDs? Because the tests aren’t reliable.

There still doesn’t exist a test that can give an assertive answer regarding lyme disease. The standard test performed in Finland is a test called ELISA, which looks for lyme antibodies. ELISA misses 50% of the infections. The LLMDs avoid this test, because it’s simply not accurate enough.

A lumbar puncture (spinal tap), testing the cerebrospinal fluid, is tool nr 2 in Finnish diagnosis. That procedure gives a positive result in under 20% of people with lyme. The only advantage to that test is that it’s very predictive – if it is positive, the patient has lyme with a certainty of 100%.

After these two tests, the Finnish medical care makes a halt, points at the test results and say “you don’t have lyme. It’s something else.” And often it doesn’t take long until the patient trots away to the pharmacy with a prescription for antidepressants.

The LLMDs don’t care for the ELISA-test, but start by examining the patient throughly – physically, but more important: by letting the patient describe his/her symptoms.

Blood tests are often taken, in order to check for deficiency diseases, and to rule other things out.

The most common way to continue testing is to run a Western Blot test. This test searches for antibodies attached to proteins that are very specific for the lyme bug. The proteins are classified by weight and are called bands. The test examines these specific bands.

Some say that positive results on any two bands are needed, others claim that a positive result on a single band is enough. Using the later criteria, the test catches 80% of those with lyme.

So if you test positive in a Western Blot, are you then officially recognized as having lyme disease? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that is the case.

What if you belong to the 20% that slip by undetected through the Western Blot test? Then you find yourself in my category. Together with us, there are many that have carried this disease for a long time – people with chronic lyme disease, something that does not exist in our country.

Then you might want to measure cellular activity against lyme, and against the many co-infections that are so commonly associated with lyme – other diseases, hanging on, acting together, helping to break down the body. Examples are mycoplasma and TWAR (Chlamydophila pneumoniae). There are many more. And all of them can be transmitted by a tiny, seemingly harmless tick.