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Letter: Lyme Disease Bill Hits Home

To the Editor:

The passing of the Lyme Disease Testing Awareness Act by Governor McDonnell really hit home for me. Because I didn’t see a tick or have the bulls-eye rash, my Lyme disease diagnosis was not an easy one. I had to go to three different medical practices before some took my symptoms and suspicions of Lyme disease seriously. The first doctor ordered an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test, which came back negative. The next two tests I had done were called the Western Blot, which is considered a very sensitive testing method. My test results showed only two bands and the Center for Disease Control requires three bands for a positive diagnosis of Lyme disease.

The blood sample test works most effectively when your anti-bodies begin mounting a response to the infection. It is essential to know that it takes several weeks from the time when an infected tick releases the infection into one’s body for an anti-body to react in that way. So even with the most advanced testing methods, awareness of the test’s shortcoming are important for each patient to understand. I

have many friends with Lyme disease and they too had issues with their initial diagnosis, which delayed their proper treatment during a critical time period.

I want to applaud my Delegate Barbara Comstock for taking on this issue on behalf of our Great Falls community. The new legislation will provide others the opportunity for a complete understanding of the test’s shortcomings, and hopefully lead to more accurate and early diagnosis from re-testing.

Laurel A. Gainor

Great Falls