DIAGNOSING LYME DISEASE
According to both the Federal CDC and the Maine CDC, the surveillance criteria used by these agencies for epidemiological purposes, or tracking, is NOT sufficient to be used for clinically diagnosing and treating patients.
If you have an identifiable Erythema Migrans, you need no further testing—an EM IS Lyme disease, and treatment should be started immediately.
Testing for Lyme disease is most often done per the CDC recommended 2 tier tests, the Elisa and the Western Blot. There are disagreements in the medical community about the sensitivity and specificity of these tests. One group of physicians might say there are too many false positives and another will say the tests are not sensitive enough and produce too many false negatives. These tests are indirect tests, that is they measure antibodies produced by the patient against the infecting organism. There are multiple factors which can influence the outcome of these tests, including timing of the test in relation to the tick attachment and medications like antibiotics and steroids that you may have taken.
There are many new tests in the development phase, but none ready for reliable consumer use. Using a specialty lab may offer more reliable testing. Such labs include Igenex and Stonybrook (ask for ALL BANDS reported).
In a perfect world, physicians would be making a clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease and using laboratory evidence to support the diagnosis.