Inaccurate Lyme disease tests leave Canadian patients without answers
WATCH ABOVE: Lyme disease tests may not be accurate for some Canadians. Global’s Heather Yourex-West reports.
CALGARY – Canadian patients may be receiving false-positive Lyme disease test results from U.S. labs as often as 50 per cent of the time, according to a new paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The research found false-positive results in people without Lyme disease at three of four commercial U.S. laboratories, ranging from 2.5 per cent to 25 per cent. The fourth lab had a rate of false-positives at more than 50 per cent.
“The findings really suggest that those specialty labs have a very high incidents of false-positive,” said Dr. Dan Gregson, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Calgary. “People getting results from those labs most likely do not have Lyme disease.”
The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation believes the research highlights a need for better testing in Canada. The group believes Lyme disease is significantly under-diagnosed in Canada because current testing methods are missing cases.
“We recognize there’s a problem with false-positives, but there’s also a problem with false-negatives,” said Janet Sperling.
Calgary mom Theresa Stadnyk tested negative for Lyme disease in May, after she was bitten by a tick while doing yard work. Her symptoms began with a persistent headache and became so severe she had to be hospitalized.
“I couldn’t really walk, any movement, I’d be nauseated,” she said. “I couldn’t go to the bathroom myself.”
Stadnyk’s doctor decided to treat her for Lyme disease even though a blood test came back negative. The antibiotics began to have an impact almost immediately.
“She basically went from almost paralyzed and bedridden, and two weeks of antibiotics, she walked out of the hospital,” said Stadnyk’s husband, John.
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