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Lyme disease testing often leads to false positives in U.S.

In recent years, there has been a great deal of concern over Lyme disease. This tick-borne bacterial infection can be found throughout North America, but tends to be more prevalent in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. Therefore, New York residents have good reason to be concerned. Many people who have spent time in areas where deer ticks are to be found may have been infected with Lyme disease, yet have not been correctly diagnosed with the illness.

Medical professionals say that Lyme disease is often difficult to diagnose. The early stages of the disease come with symptoms, such as fatigue, joint pain and headaches, which are also common to other conditions. It is not uncommon for doctors to diagnose a patient with an illness that has similar symptoms. How can a faulty diagnosis affect people with Lyme disease or other serious diseases?

If a patient is told he or she has Lyme disease but another illness is the actual cause of the symptoms, the diagnosis may lead to a prescription error. This could result in the patient not getting the correct treatment. On the other hand, an incorrect diagnosis of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome could rob a patient of vital treatment that he or she needs as soon as possible. In its early stages, Lyme disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics. As the disease progresses, however, it becomes more difficult to treat and may become life-threatening.

Disturbingly, laboratory tests for Lyme disease in the United States often result in false positives. One lab was reported to diagnose false positives for Lyme in more than 50 percent of cases. When a patient is mistakenly told he or she has Lyme disease, it may lead to months or years of further suffering and a worsened medical condition as the wrong medications and treatments are administered. Patients who are suffering because of a faulty diagnosis may wish to seek compensation.

Source: Calgary Herald, "Doctors warn of false positives in U.S. testing for Lyme disease," Colette Derworiz, Aug. 31, 2015

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