New Test May be Able to Detect Lyme Disease Earlier
A new test may be able to detect Lyme Disease earlier, and distinguish between Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses.1 Currently, there are numerous tick-borne illnesses, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, rickettsiosis, Powassan disease, tularemia, babesiosis, and Lyme Disease. All the tick-borne illnesses present with flu-like symptoms of between 1-2 weeks and progress with differing degrees of severity and overall symptom picture. Co-infection is also commonly seen with tick-borne illnesses.
Borrelia burgdorferi is a Particularly Virulent Tick-Borne Illness
Lyme Disease, specifically caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, is a particularly virulent tick-borne illness which commonly progresses from the flu-like, “localized stage,” to involvement of the nervous system. It is also common for there to be rheumatological and cardiac involvement. During the localized phase, Lyme can be diagnosed clinically if an erythema migrans (EM) type rash is appreciated. However, EM rashes only present in approximately 80% of Lyme cases. When Lyme progresses past the localized stage, and becomes disseminated, serological testing is necessary.
Researchers Able to Distinguish Lyme from other Tick-Borne Illnesses with 98% Accuracy
Serological testing for Lyme disease has been unable to diagnose Lyme during its early stages, leading to many cases being confused with something less serious until it’s too late, and has progressed to the disseminated stage. Researchers from Colorado State University have been studying the metabolic profile of the disease and have been able to accurately distinguish Lyme from other tick-borne illnesses with 98% accuracy.
Lyme Disease is the Most Common Vector Borne Illness in the United States
An illness that previously had been thought to be contained to the NorthEastern part of the country is now seen in growing numbers in other geographical regions. It is important to diagnose and treat the condition during the localized stage so that long term infection does not occur, leading to cardiac symptoms, and neurological involvement. Tests which could screen for Lyme during the fever, malaise stage are very necessary. The researchers at Colorado State University are in the process of developing a laboratory test which could be used for clinical screening.
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Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.