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Test for Persistent Lyme Infection Using Live Ticks Shown Safe in Clinical Study

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In a first-of-its-kind study for Lyme disease, researchers have used live, disease-free ticks to see if Lyme disease bacteria can be detected in people who continue to experience symptoms such as fatigue or arthritis after completing antibiotic therapy. The technique, called xenodiagnosis, attempts to find evidence of a disease-causing microbe indirectly, through use of the natural disease-carrier—in this case, ticks. It was well tolerated by the volunteers, but investigators could not find evidence of Lyme disease bacteria in most of the cases where enough ticks were collected to make testing possible.

Larger studies are needed, the scientists say, to determine the significance of positive xenodiagnosis results in cases where Lyme disease symptoms persist following antibiotic therapy.

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