Tick Control Controversy over the CDC’s definition of Lyme Disease
A petition has been started to remove a video from the Center for Disease Control’s website – one which Lyme advocates claim is “misleading” and untrue.
“One way to stop an epidemic,” warns Carl Tuttle, author of a new petition on Change.org, “is to redefine it.”
His petition was inspired by a recent MedScape news post, hosted by health and wellness resource WebMD. Testing for Lyme Disease: Follow the Steps by CDC exert Barbara J.B. Johnson PhD gives an overview of serologic testing for Lyme disease, which is the only type of diagnostic testing for Lyme disease currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
“When testing for antibodies for Lyme disease, CDC recommends a 2-step testing process,” Professor Johnson asserts. “In the first step, serum is tested using a highly sensitive but inadequately specific quantitative assay, most commonly an enzyme immunoassay, such as an ELISA. If this first test is negative, no further testing is indicated. If the first test is positive or indeterminate (also called "equivocal" or "borderline"), a second-step test should be performed.”
“Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about Lyme disease testing, most notably that the first-step tests are insensitive. This myth is based on tests that are no longer in use and inappropriately expecting positive results for patients who are in the early stages of infection, for whom serologic testing is not recommended. In truth, first-tier tests for Lyme disease are quite sensitive -- sensitive enough to react in some patients with other spirochetal diseases, such as tick-borne relapsing fever, syphilis, or leptospirosis, as well as with other infectious and noninfectious conditions.”
It’s these claims that caused Carl Tuttle to file his petition.
“One way to stop an epidemic is to redefine it by narrowing the disease's diagnostic criteria so tightly that it's hard for any chronically ill Lyme patient to fit the profile,” he claims.
“The following statement by Barbara Johnson regarding the Western blot Lyme test is the issue: “To be considered positive, the serum should react with at least 5 of 10 scored bands on the IgG assay and with 2 of 3 scored bands on the IgM assay.””
“This set of Western blot criteria was established for surveillance purposes only and if the patient does not meet these strict criteria then the case is not reported to the CDC. Those who treat Lyme disease exclusively recognize that it is not necessary to have five positive Western blot IgG bands or two IgM bands in order to diagnose Lyme disease.”
“The CDC has confused a nation of intelligent physicians by not including the disclaimer that the national surveillance case definition is for reporting purposes only and not to be used in clinical diagnosis."
Misinterpretation of laboratory results is the main reason why physicians across the nation are dismissive of Lyme patients and their symptoms.”
The efficacy of Lyme disease testing continues to be a cause of considerable friction between the Center for Disease Control and advocates of those with supposed “chronic Lyme disease” – one which we’ve written about before.
The fact that Lyme advocates claim thousands of Americans could be living with Lyme disease, despite testing negative for the illness, is just another reason why preventing the tick bites that cause Lyme disease remains the best way of combating the disease.
As summer approaches, tick-proof your home and garden by talking to a tick control specialist, like the experts at Aspenn Environmental Services, about a yard spray for ticks. Their tick spray treatments can get rid of ticks from your property and help prevent tick bites from infecting your family and pets.
With so many questions still unanswered about how to effectively diagnose Lyme disease, a preventative approach remains the safest – and smartest – tick control option.