The passing of the Lyme disease Testing Awareness Act by Gov. McDonnell this week really hit home for me.
Because I didn’t see a tick or have the bulls-eye rash, my Lyme disease diagnosis was not an easy one. I had to go to three different medical practices before some took my symptoms and suspicions of Lyme disease seriously.
The first doctor ordered an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test which came back negative. The next two tests I had done were called the Western Blot, which is considered a very sensitive testing method. My test results showed only 2 bands and the Center for Disease Control requires three bands for a positive diagnosis of Lyme disease.
The blood sample test works most effectively when your antibodies begin mounting a response to the infection. It is essential to know that it takes several weeks from the time when an infected tick releases the infection into one’s body for an antibody to react in that way. So even with the most advanced testing methods, awareness of the test’s shortcoming are important for each patient to understand.
I have many friends with Lyme disease and they too had issues with their initial diagnosis, which delayed their proper treatment during a critical time period.
I want to applaud my Del. Barbara Comstock (R-Dist. 34) for taking on this issue on behalf of our Great Falls community. The new legislation will provide others the opportunity for a complete understanding of the test’s shortcomings, and hopefully lead to more accurate and early diagnosis from re-testing.
Laurel A. Gainor