ORLANDO, Fla. — As we all take advantage of the sunny summer days, be aware that it’s tick season out there and experts warn that this summer will be particularly bad. The CDC reports almost a half a million people are infected with Lyme disease each year. Symptoms include fever, headaches, fatigue and a telltale bullseye rash around the site of the bite. But misdiagnosis is common. In fact, a recent study by Lymedisease.org reported less than a quarter of patients reported being correctly diagnosed within six months of the onset of their symptoms. Now, a new test may help get people the right diagnosis quicker than ever before.
Bee keeper Adriana Furey isn’t afraid of much, except for the bug that almost killed her.
“It felt like someone was stabbing my brain,” Adriana painfully recalled. “I never actually saw a tick bite.”
After years of misdiagnosis and dozens of doctors, Adriana was told she had chronic Lyme disease — a difficult disease to diagnosis. Microbiologist and Lyme disease specialist at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine Mollie Jewett, PhD says Lyme disease tests today are complicated. That’s why her lab is working to make it easier and quicker to diagnose.
“We want clear and quick because the longer you don't have a diagnosis, the more likely you are to have ongoing, increasing disease challenges,” Jewett explained.
Jewett and her team are creating a molecular blood test that doesn’t just test for antibodies in the blood specific for Lyme disease, but also uses another device that directly detects the bacteria that causes it. The handheld device would be in doctors’ offices, so there would be no waiting for lab results and no follow up tests.
Jewett said, “Our ultimate target would be within 15 minutes.”
if Lyme disease is caught early and treated with antibiotics, patients typically recover quickly, without long-term effects — something that Adriana wishes would have happened to her — but now feels blessed she finally has the diagnosis she was so desperately looking for.
“It taught me so many lessons of just gratitude and how much we take for granted,” Adriana expressed.
A startling statistic out of the nationwide survey conducted by Lymedisease.org – 61 percent of patients said it took more than two years to receive a correct diagnosis.
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