Ticks used to test for Lyme disease in new study

Ticks used to test for Lyme disease in new study

A new test relies on ticks.

Lyme disease is an illness that has garnered a lot of controversy over time.  Not only is it challenging to diagnose, it is also challenging to treat because of the host of neurological, musculoskeletal and cardiac issues that can go along with it.  However, a new test for the condition in humans is under development and it relies on an insect that often carries the disease – the tick.

In this case, ticks that are not carrying the illness were used for a tick test on humans.  Essentially, the uninfected tick bites the human thought to be infected with the condition, and if the tick is then found to have the bacterium,  a diagnosis is then applied.

For the study, researchers tested 36 subjects, 26 of whom had a history of Lyme disease.  The remaining ten were healthy with no prior connection to the disease.  In order to see if this initial tick test for persistent Lyme disease would work in humans, the 26 subjects with a history of the illness had 25 to 30 ticks placed on their arm under a special dressing, and these ticks were recovered a few days later to see if Lyme disease would ultimately incubate.

None of the ticks attached to healthy subjects demonstrated evidence of Lyme disease after incubation conducted for two weeks.  Usable ticks from 23 of the infected participants were harvested and 21 had no ticks positive for signs of bacteria.  For one person with persistent symptoms after antibiotic treatment and one person with a persistent rash who had just started antibiotics, the ticks did test positive for fragments of DNA from the bacterium.

Scientists involved with the tick test study say that the test provided scientists with a simple first step towards further tests that could eventually result in better tick prevention.

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