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Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease), Molecular Detection

The Borrelia molecular assay is used for the laboratory documentation of active Lyme disease.

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Borrelia sp. is responsible for Lyme disease (borreliosis). Borrelias are slender, flexible, helically coiled, and highly motile spirochetes. Borrelias are transmitted by the bite of various species of ticks, in Europe mostly by the Ixodes ricinus tick (sheep tick) and in America by the Ixodes damini tick. The incubation period ranges from 3 to 30 days. If left untreated, the disease progresses in three stages, although the individual patient's course often deviates from this classic pattern.

Stage I: After 4-8 weeks after the bite of the infected tick, the typical erythema migrans develops on the skin.

Stage II: After 3 weeks, the generalization of pathological symptoms occurs. Flu-like symptoms occur while a large proportion of patients may develop lymphocytic meningitis and radiculopathy (Bannwarth syndrome), facial nerve palsy, and aseptic meningitis as well as episodes of arthritis and carditis.

Stage III: Neurological disorders (chronic encephalomyelitis), chronic atrophic acrodermatitis, Lyme disease arthritis.

Lyme disease occurs throughout the northern hemisphere. There are some endemic outbreaks where the disease is most common, such as in central Europe, where about 3-7% of larvae and 10-34% of nymphs and adult ticks are infected by Borrelia. Various wild animals such as rodents, and larger animals such as deer, constitute the natural reservoir of Borrelia, although these species are rarely infected by the disease. The ticks feed by sucking the infected blood from these animals.

Almost all human infections are caused by 3 species of Borrelia. Borrelia burgdorferi is the leading cause of Lyme disease in North America, while the highly related species Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii are the major causes of Lyme disease in Europe.

For molecular testing for Borrelia, primers that recognize all 3 species are used:

  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Borrelia afzelii
  • Borrelia garinii



Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.

At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.

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