One of the challenges that fuels the Chronic Lyme Disease controversy is the need for adequate testing. Standard testing protocols rely on the detection of antibodies, a component of the humoral immune system. In patients with chronic infections this may not be the most accurate way to assess infection due to some issues including:
- After years of infection, the bacteria can actually suppress the production of antibodies causing false negatives in infected patients.
- Alternatively some antibodies may persist in the blood for years after infection, so there is limited ability to determine if infections are active, or if treatments are successful.
A newer method of testing
The Elipsot test measure T-cell mediated immune activity. T-cells are another component of the immune system, and these cells have antigen memory. Elipsot testing has an estimated specificity of 94% and sensitivity of 84%. Armin labs, a german laboratory that specializes in chronic infection diagnostics, has Elispot testing available not only for Lyme Disease, but also for co-infections and viruses.
Unlike antibody testing, the Elispot can also be used to monitor the success of treatments. Once an infection is no longer active, it can’t active t-cells and will result in a negative Elispot test. Additionally, the Elispot can be used for early detection, as you don’t have to wait 4-6 weeks for antibodies to be produced, as you do for standard ELISA testing.
Dr. Jennifer Nardella and Meghan Haggarty are both Lyme literate naturopathic doctors and are members of ILADS. They have been treating Lyme and associated diseases using naturopathic medicine for nearly a decade and continue to educate themselves on the most up to date information regarding both diagnosing and treating Lyme Disease and co-infections.