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Rapid test for Lyme disease on the way.

Rapid test for Lyme disease on the way

A bacterial infection of humans and animals transmitted by tick bites, Lyme disease was considered rare when first identified in 1975. But increasing numbers of reported cases have made the disease a public health problem. Because advanced Lyme disease can cause debilitating arthritis, neurological damage and heart problems, researchers are looking for better ways to detect the Borrelia bergdorferi bacteria in the blood before these serious complications develop. Early treatment with antibiotics can stop the disease from causing serious health problems.

The rapid diagnostic test reported to be closest to marketing is that developed at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine's laboratory in Jamaica Plain, Mass., where scientists say clinical trials of the one-hour test should be well underway by the middle of the year. Andrew Onderdonk and his co-workers are collaborating with Cambridge BioScience of Worcester, Mass., to develop commercially available test kits based on Tufts technology. The veterinary test is scheduled for marketing this year, the human test for 1989.

Onderdonk told SCIENCE NEWS that physicians should test for human infection within days after tick bites occur, while the characteristic skin rash is still present. It also may be prudent, he says, to screen residents in areas where the disease is most prevalent. Those areas include California, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Northeast.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 16, 1988
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