Tests for Lyme disease aren't reliable


The Federally recommended test often misses cases of Lyme in the early stages, writes Beth Daley at The New England Center for Investigative Reporting. Meanwhile, unregulated and unvalidated alternative tests abound, thanks to an FDA loophole.

The discrepancies are fueling an ongoing battle over "chronic lyme disease" — a long-term illness that may or may not exist and is often treated with massive, repeated doses of antibiotics by caregivers (some doctors and some not) who often diagnose patients using the unregulated and unverified tests.

The unregulated tests may or may not be bad, Daley writes. The trouble is that we just don't know because they haven't been verified through third-party, peer-reviewed research. Essentially, people who use those tests are taking the manufacturers' or creators' word for it that they work. But in a situation where the best and most-accurate known test (the one that's been verified and is recommended by the FDA and CDC) is flawed and prone to its own misdiagnoses, you're left with a situation chock full of confusion and mistrust.

Image: Some rights reserved by John Tann