In the UK, as in the rest of Europe, the usual method of blood testing is through a 2 tier system. A blood sample is sent to the local laboratory with which the GP surgery or hospital has a contract for laboratory services.
Stage 1 – An EIA or ELISA screening test is used and if this result is equivocal or positive, then the sample is sent on to a specialist reference laboratory for confirmatory testing specific to Lyme disease.
Stage 2 – the tests carried out at the reference laboratory will include an immunoblot or Western blot which is specific to Lyme disease. The aim of the second tier test is to confirm Lyme disease and identify any false positive EIA results.
This method of testing is HIGHLY inaccurate but it is all the NHS will offer. It has been reported that up to 90% of people who do have Lyme disease get a negative test result with the NHS testing methodology. This does also not test for co-infections and remember – LYME RARELY COMES ALONE. People who have this test through the NHS are then often wrongly diagnosed with ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia.
If you’ve had an NHS test that was negative, wish to get a private overseas test to further investigate your illness there are 3 main options.
DNA Connections: You can order it yourself and results get emailed or posted to you. It costs $500 and consists of a urine test. They suggest a deep tissue massage first.
IGENEX – Igenex is an American specialist Lyme testing lab. Igenex has been accredited by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and in addition, it holds California, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida licensure since these States require a separate license to perform testing for patients.
They have a number of options including testing for other infections that you can receive from a tick bite alongside Lyme. Many of these extra tests can become quite expensive. To get an Igenex test you will need a doctor to take your blood, sign the request form for the tests and receive the results, Igenex will not post results to a patient alone. If you have an open minded GP they may do this, some private doctors will or there are 2 private clinics in England who will see you for Lyme and carry out a test with Igenex at your request, but be aware you will pay for the consult with these as well as the test.
The three options for just Lyme testing with Igenex are:
1. “Basic panel” – a comprehensive IgG and IgM western blot based on additional strains of bacteria to the NHS test together with an IFA – another sort of test to detect antibodies against the lyme bacteria. This costs $260, around £160.
2. “Complete panel” – as above plus a PCR test on the blood, this looks directly for the DNA of the bacteria, it is very specific but rarely positive as you need the bacteria in your blood that is drawn, but can be an appropriate option for people who are not producing antibodies. This is $475, around £300.
3. “Initial panel” – the IgG and IgM western blot as per the basic panel and PCR on blood as per complete panel, but does not include the IFA. This is $410, around £250.
They also offer a CD57 test for $140, £90 which can be useful in judging severity of infection or treatment progress. It is thought that the lower the CD57, the more the disease has progressed. Furthermore you will need to pay for the cost of shipping the blood with a specialist courier. Further information can be found on Igenex website or by contacting email@example.com.
ARMIN: ArminLabs is a German specialist Lyme testing lab run by Dr Armin Schwarzbach, formerly of Infectolab and the BCA clinic who treat tick-borne diseases. ArminLabs works in association with Gärtner Labs in Ravensburg and so has been accredited by the Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle GmbH (DAkkS) (German Accreditation Board), all tests are CE-certified for use within the EU.
They also have many test options, including tests for co-infections which are again expensive if a number are carried out. ArminLabs do not require a doctor to sign for the test and will give results directly to the patient and so are an option if you cannot afford to see a private doctor and your GP will not process an Igenex test. You will still require blood to be taken by a phlebotomist or nurse, many GP surgeries or hospitals will offer this for free if you explain the situation.
The options for Lyme tests offered by ArminLabs are:
1. “Acute” – a comprehensive IgG and IgM western blot, similar to that offered by Igenex and an Elispot LTT. The full details on the blot are not available but it seems that this blot compared to Igenex has higher thresholds to be considered positive but uses European bacterial strains instead of just American. The Elispot LTT measures your immune cells’ response to Lyme bacteria which can indicate if they have recently been exposed to similar bacteria even without producing antibodies. This is €330, around £240.
2. “Chronic” – as above plus a CD57 test (see note for Igenex). This is €436, around £320.
Armin also offers testing for co-infections.
In the UK this lab now go through the Academy of Nutritional Medicine to ensure high levels of patient care. Additionally you are required to pay for the cost of shipping the blood with a private courier. ArminLabs and AONM have a system in place for this with a fixed cost of £30 per order with FedEX. Shipments are arranged through the FedEX and full details of how to do this are given by AONM. For further information or to order a test kit you can look at ArminLabs website: https://www.arminlabs.com/en and also the AONM website: http://www.aonm.org.
For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org to order a test kit and discuss your needs.
As well as these tests it is worth getting an ANA test done for autoimmune diseases, thyroid antibodies for Hashimotos and thyroid function (make sure to include T4 and T3), a SIBO breath test, H-Pylori stool test, a test for parasites (http://www.diagnosticsolutionslab.com/gi-map%E2%84%A2), Dutch Complete hormone test, Armin Virus Panel, red and white blood cell count (test for anaemia) and a full vitamin panel – get those vitamins optimal, not just in range.