Testing for tick-borne diseases is variable in both availability and reliability depending on the infection. Often patients may require treatment before laboratory tests can return a confirmation of disease. For some diseases, commercial tests are not yet available or diagnosis may depend on the experience of the pathologist reviewing a blood slide or tissue sample under a microscope. For others, antibodies may never develop to levels able to be detected by current testing methods. In some cases you may want to have your tick tested, though this testing is also not 100% reliable and can not confirm if the tick has or has not transmitted a disease, even if the tick comes back positive.
For many tick-borne diseases a negative test does not mean no infection.Therefore, recognition of certain diseases through clinical diagnosis is critical in the process of administering timely, effective and sometimes life-saving treatment to patients.
Dr. Daniel Cameron, lead author for the 2014 ILADS peer reviewed guidelines (the only guidelines currently published by the National Guidelines Clearinghouse in the treatment of Lyme disease), also provides guidance in test choice in regard to Lyme disease.
The CDC provides the Tick-borne Diseases of the United States: A Reference Manual for Health Care Providers to aid in diagnosis, testing and treatment of tick-borne diseases.
Laboratories that provide specialized testing for many tick borne diseases include but are not limited to:
IGeneX Inc. laboratory is a CLIA-certified high complexity testing lab with expertise in testing for tick-borne diseases for over 25 years.
Galaxy Diagnostics laboratory that has specialized in testing for Bartonella and other Tick-Borne Diseases. They currently test for the highest number of strains of Bartonella in the country. Edward Breitschwerdt, DVM, Chief Scientific Officer, is an internationally recognized leader in the area of Bartonella research, diagnosis, and treatment. B. Robert Mozayeni, MD, Chief Medical Officer, under an ongoing research collaboration with Dr. Breitschwerdt, maintains an observational clinical evaluation of the significance of Bartonella infection in a cohort of several hundred human patients with otherwise unexplained chronic conditions as well as maintaining his private practice.
Stonybrook School of Medicine– Lyme Disease Laboratory
Coppe Laboratories is a CLIA-certified diagnostic reference laboratory that provides specialty testing with a focus on infectious agents involved in acute and chronic illness. Testing for Powassan Virus has recently begun at this lab.
Division of Vector-Borne Diseases Laboratory– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mayo Clinic Medical Laboratories– Tick-Borne Disease Testing