Though Lyme disease infects thousands of Americans each year, it's traditionally been diagnosed via the manifestation of physical symptoms, such as fever and exhaustion. This imprecise method is partially to blame for the large number of people unknowingly living with the tick-borne illness. Symptoms don't necessarily make themselves known immediately – it may take months for hosts to notice them. For this reason, many people assume they have a fever or passing illness instead of the more serious Lyme disease. Because of the potential danger Lyme disease poses, scientists have been researching a more reliable method of identifying the illness in humans. A group of Connecticut researchers recently went public with an efficient, effective DNA test that guarantees a diagnosis in less than a week.
Detecting Lyme disease
In mid-January, scientists in the Molecular Diagnostics Department of the Milford Medical Laboratory announced that they were the first and only facility in the U.S. to offer a DNA-based test for Lyme disease. The test analyzes blood, joint fluid or spinal fluid to determine if the infectious bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi or Borrelia miyamotoi are present. While the former is the key agent in Lyme disease, the latter is an agent for an illness that resembles Lyme.
Tests typically generate results within five days, which makes it the fastest turnaround in the country. Milford Medical Laboratory is charging those who wish to take the test $150. Regardless, this quick exam is ideal for those who have been bitten by ticks and wish to check for Lyme disease before serious symptoms develop. The longer Lyme goes untreated, the more serious it becomes, which means that a fast response is vital. Ticks themselves can also be analyzed for $75.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends lab testing for Lyme disease as opposed to waiting for physical symptoms to manifest themselves. However, if you live in a region especially populous in ticks, you may want to start taking preventative measures to stave off tick bites.
Any pets that are outdoors a lot should be regularly checked for ticks, as they can bring the parasites into your home, leading to human infection. To keep your home and garden protected, try Hartz® UltraGuard® Yard & Kennel Spray, which is formulated to kill ticks, fleas and their larvae.
This content is provided by the flea and tick experts at Hartz. We believe in offering safe, effective and affordable parasite prevention for every dog and cat.