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Test can now specifically identify Lyme disease

Each year, there are approximately 300,000 cases of Lyme disease diagnosed in the U.S. Most of these cases are found in the upper Midwest and the northeast. In 2015, Lyme disease confirmed diagnoses came from 14 states.

Lyme disease is caused by a bite from a blacklegged tick that is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. Researchers with Colorado State University and scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are pleased with the results of their testing, as an early diagnosis of Lyme disease can help limit more severe symptoms.

The research allowed scientists to tell the difference between Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI) and early Lyme disease. The current lab tests are not sensitive enough to detect Lyme disease within the first few weeks after someone contracted the illness. In addition, while scientists know what causes Lyme disease, the same is not true for STARI. The rash is too similar to that of Lyme disease to make a diagnosis only on that and the other symptoms of STARI include fatigue, headache, fever and muscle pains. Mass spectrometry was used to identify the biomarkers in the two diseases that were different and the scientists could then tell the difference between the diseases up to 98 percent of the time.

Lyme disease symptoms include a rash, fever, arthritis, facial paralysis, headaches, irregular heartbeat, short-term memory problems, nerve pain, and brain and spinal cord inflammation. The normal treatment is a couple of weeks on oral antibiotics.

There are many diseases where a failure to diagnose can have severe negative effects, including death in some cases. If you are a victim of a doctor's failure to diagnose, an experienced attorney can help you look into a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: Science Daily, "New test differentiates between Lyme disease, similar illness," Aug. 16, 2017

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