Honing in on multiple infections   

Integrated testing targets dual illness in certain patients

Tick-borne pathogen coinfections are more widespread than commonly recognized by medical professionals and the public. Ticks can transmit multiple infectious agents through a single bite to the host. In studies reported in Clinical Microbiology reviews, coinfections appear with the greatest frequency among people with Lyme disease. Approximately 4%–5% of patients with Lyme disease are coinfected with either human anaplasmosis or babesiosis where Lyme disease is endemic.

Mayo Clinic, a recognized center of excellence for vector-borne diseases, offers combined expertise with consultancy, integration of serologic and molecular testing, and enhanced reports with interpretation support.

Serological testing

A tick-borne testing panel can assist in the detection of coinfections, even if they are not initially suspected by the provider. Such tests can evaluate patients who present with fever, myalgia, headache, nausea, and other symptoms and have a history or suspicion of tick exposure. Importantly, this testing is useful in patients presenting with more than seven days of symptoms.

Comprehensive panels

Included tests

LYME   | Lyme Disease Serology, Serum

  • Only included within TICKS comprehensive panel

LYWB   | Lyme Disease Antibody, Immunoblot, Serum

  • Reflex from TICKS comprehensive panel, if indicated

Molecular testing

While two-tiered serological testing best identifies Lyme disease caused by B. burgdorferi, molecular amplification assays are the best detectors for acute ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and B. miyamotoi infections within the first seven days following symptom onset. This tick-borne panel offers sensitive, specific, and rapid detection of agents that cause these four diseases. Consider ordering this panel when systemic symptoms, such as fever, chills, and sepsis, are present.

Comprehensive panel

Included tests

Tick-borne sensitization

Alpha-gal testing

Joshua Bornhorst, Ph.D., associate director of Mayo Clinic's Clinical Immunoassay Lab, explains how humans can develop an allergy to the alpha-gal molecule, and describes a new allergen antibody test that can be used to detect it. Dr. Bornhorst also reviews other tests that should be used in conjunction with alpha-gal testing to accurately identify the scope and underlying cause of the allergy.

Learn more about how to order these tests at your institution.