Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi which is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks. These ticks are about the size of a pin head and are found in woodland and around heathland. If you have been bitten by a tick and haven't removed it within a couple of days, you may be at risk from Lyme disease.
A common early sign of infection is a circular, expanding rash which has the appearance of a bull's eye. If you have this rash, you definitely have Lyme disease and do not need to proceed with this test. You should instead consult your GP at your earliest convenience to be started on treatment.
This rash doesn’t however occur in all cases. If left untreated the infection can spread to your joints, heart and even the nervous system. Symptoms of Lyme disease include headaches, fever, joint pain, fatigue and problems with short-term memory. Lyme disease is often overlooked because the symptoms mimic so many other conditions including arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia.
Unfortunately there isn't an easy single test to categorically diagnose Lyme disease. Our Lyme disease (ELISA) blood test can help to confirm the disease, but it is known for producing false positive results in people with glandular fever, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions. If you have a positive ELISA result then we would advise you are further assessed by your usual doctor.
Important: A Lyme disease test can be negative if taken too soon after the infection date. If you are free of symptoms please wait for at least 6 weeks after the date you suspect you were bitten or were in an environment where you could have been infected. If you are experiencing symptoms then we recommend testing as soon as possible.
Have you been bitten by a tick and although you're symptom-free you want to check for Lyme? Or did you experience flu-like symptoms after being bitten by a tick such as headaches, aches and pains and fever? Perhaps you've had long-term unexplained symptoms and want to rule out Lyme. If so, this test is an important first step towards a diagnosis.
Many people with Lyme disease develop a circular red skin rash around the tick bite which looks like a bull’s eye on a dartboard. If you have this rash, it means you definitely have Lyme disease and therefore do not need to proceed with this test. You should instead consult your GP at your earliest convenience as you would need treatment.