How important are co-infections in the UK?

They are important, because having more than one tick-borne infection can make diagnosis and treatment more difficult. However, these other infections are nothing like as common in UK ticks as they are in other European countries or in N America. See our page on Tick-borne diseases.

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Is person-to-person transmission possible?

Although the bacteria that cause Lyme disease have been found in body fluids, there is no hard evidence of person-to-person transmission. The bacteria have to be injected into the blood stream, which is where the tick comes in. The tick also injects immunosuppressive chemicals which can prevent the immune system from recognising and dealing with […]

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Can Lyme disease be transmitted sexually?

There is no scientific evidence that Lyme disease is transmitted sexually. Experiments with animals have repeatedly failed to transmit disease in this way. Although the bacteria have been found in vaginal secretions and in semen, it is a big step from that to causing infection. The most likely explanation of partners, or several members of […]

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Can mosquitoes or other insects transmit Lyme disease?

As far as we know the tick is the only vector. The Borrelia bacteria has a complex relationship with both the tick, in which it spends part of its life, and the mammalian host (mouse, bird, human etc). Although the Lyme disease bacteria have been found in the salivary glands of mosquitoes, there is no […]

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How can one assess a private test or laboratory?

Some private laboratories do offer alternative tests that are used on other infections, but no research has been published to certify these tests to be more reliable than those used by the NHS and other European official laboratories. In the UK reputable private laboratories send their samples for Lyme Disease testing to the PHE reference […]

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Are German tests really better than NHS ones?

No. Lyme disease tests used by official German laboratories are of the same type that the NHS uses, though they may be produced by a different manufacturer. Confusion arises because some private German laboratories use tests that have not been found to be helpful in diagnosis (eg EliSpot and LTT (Lymphocyte Transformation Test)) and also […]

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Are other types of tests useful in diagnosing Lyme borreliosis?

Antibody tests have limitations and there are other “cellular” tests looking at a different part of the immune system. T cell tests for example are known to be helpful in some diseases, such as TB, but so far, their use in LB has not been proved. There is a study in progress in the Netherlands […]

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How are specific tests accredited?

When a new type of test is developed, the manufacturer effectively accredits it themselves. Reputable companies will then run trials to show how good the test is compared with other tests – how sensitive and how specific – and will publish the details of the test and the detail of the trials so that laboratories […]

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How are testing laboratories accredited?

A laboratory must be accredited to carry out testing so that it is reliable, and results can be reproduced. They must show that they meet high levels of cleanliness, keep good records, staff are appropriately trained and that they continuously strive to improve their processes. Laboratories are accredited by the International Organisation of Standardisation to […]

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How does Laboratory quality assurance work?

Quality assurance is a process that laboratories use to ensure the accuracy and proficiency in their testing methods. It involves continuous cycles of control, testing and improvement. This is achieved through written processes (Standard Operating Procedures), rigorous documentation, monitoring and evaluating where errors may be mitigated. When a laboratory has all this in place it […]

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