New Law Requires Disclosure Statement for Lyme Disease Testing
A new state law will require doctors and labs to warn patients of the limitations of Lyme disease testing. They'll have to provide a disclosure statement to every person tested for the tick-borne illness.
It informs patients that lab tests often report false positives or false negatives for Lyme disease - especially in its early stages.
Dr. Keri Hall, infectious disease doctor at Martha Jefferson Hospital, says it can take a month or two for the body to build up antibodies that show up on a test.
"If you've had a tick bite and you have one of these round red rashes, we typically go ahead and diagnose you with Lyme disease, just based on your clinical history and the fact that you have that rash. We don't rely on the lab tests," said Hall.
There were 52 cases of Lyme disease reported in Charlottesville and Albemarle according to the most recent yearly disease surveillance data.
The new disclosure law goes into effect July 1.
Disclosure statement patients will receive:
"According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, as of 2011 Lyme disease is the sixth fastest growing disease in the United States. Your health care provider has ordered a laboratory test for the presence of Lyme disease for you. Current laboratory testing for Lyme disease can be problematic and standard laboratory tests often result in false negative and false positive results, and if done too early, you may not have produced enough antibodies to be considered positive because your immune response requires time to develop antibodies. If you are tested for Lyme disease, and the results are negative, this does not necessarily mean you do not have Lyme disease. If you continue to experience symptoms, you should contact your health care provider and inquire about the appropriateness of retesting or additional treatment."
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