Did you know that Lupus antibodies can cross-react with the test for Lyme disease?
Well, I found this out personally, the hard way. Without going into all the details here (click here to read more of my scare), I was tested for Lyme disease and the first round of tests came back positive. I soon discovered that there is a battle going on in the world of Lyme disease between two worlds of infectious disease doctors. Each side has a vastly different opinion about how Lyme should be tested and diagnosed. My first physician was a Lyme disease specialist, an internist out of Sacramento who wanted to treat me for the disease right away, without repeating tests; the second physician was an infectious disease specialist who thought it would be best to repeat the tests. She said that sometimes, Lupus antibodies can cross-react with the tests for Borellia Burgdorferi, the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.
Sure enough, the second test came back negative. I didn’t have Lyme disease after all, despite the results from the first test.
When I researched this, I found some information, but for the most part, most non-doctors aren’t aware of this. There was a blurb from a 1997 FDA article (now archived) that indicated the cross-reactivity. The only recent page that I found about this came from the Government of Alberta-Alberta Health Services, dated June 2015. On page 2 of their report, Laboratory Testing for Lyme Disease in Alberta, a section of Table 1 reads:
“Cross reacting antibodies may cause false positive reactions in persons with … autoimmune diseases (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.)”
So, I chose to trust the infectious disease doctor’s explanation of cross reactivity as well as my own knowledge of my symptoms and other blood tests that clearly point to Lupus.
I share this story just to highlight the fact that doctors aren’t perfect, and when it comes to starting treatment for any condition, not just Lyme, it’s best to get a second opinion. From there, you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
Have any of you had experiences with getting tested for Lyme disease? What made you get tested? What did you decide to do? Please share your story with us. The more we share about our experience with Lupus, the more we know—together….