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Interpretive Handbook

Test 62883 :
Tick-Borne Panel, Molecular Detection, PCR, Blood

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

In North America, ticks are the primary vectors of infectious diseases.(1) Worldwide, ticks rank second only to mosquitoes in disease transmission. In the United States, tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, human monocytic and granulocytic ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, tularemia, relapsing fever, Borrelia miyamotoi infection, and Colorado tick fever. Several of these diseases are transmitted by the same tick, and coinfections are occasionally seen.


Symptoms of the various tick-vectored diseases range from mild to life-threatening. Early symptoms, which include fever, aches, and malaise, do not aid in distinguishing the various diseases. Because early treatment can minimize or eliminate the risk of severe disease, early detection is essential, yet patients may not have developed distinctive symptoms to help in the differential diagnosis. A tick-borne panel can assist in identifying the pathogen, allowing treatment to be initiated.


Lyme disease is best detected through 2-tiered serologic testing. Acute ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis infections are best diagnosed using molecular amplification methods that offer sensitive, specific, and rapid detection of these agents.


For information on the specific diseases, see the individual tests.

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Evaluation of patients with suspected human monocytic and granulocytic ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis


Evaluation of patients with a history of, or suspected, tick exposure who are presenting with fever, myalgia, headache, nausea, and other nonspecific symptoms

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

A positive LBAB / Babesia species, Molecular Detection, PCR, Blood test result indicates the presence of Babesia species DNA and is consistent with active or recent infection. While positive results are highly specific indicators of disease, they should be correlated with blood smear microscopy, serological results, and clinical findings.


A negative LBAB test result indicates absence of detectable DNA from Babesia species in the specimen, but does not always rule-out ongoing babesiosis in a seropositive person, since the parasitemia may be present at a very low level or may be sporadic.


A positive EHRL / Ehrlichia/Anaplasma, Molecular Detection, PCR, Blood test result indicates the presence of specific DNA from Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Ehrlichia ewingii, Ehrlichia muris eauclairensis organism, or Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and support the diagnosis of ehrlichiosis or anaplasmosis.


A negative EHRL test result indicates the absence of detectable DNA from any of these 4 pathogens in specimens, but does not exclude the presence of these organisms or active or recent disease.


Since DNA of Ehrlichia ewingii is indistinguishable from that of Ehrlichia canis by this rapid PCR assay, a positive result for Ehrlichia ewingii/canis indicates the presence of DNA from either of these 2 organisms.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

While the LBAB / Babesia species, Molecular Detection, PCR, Blood assay is designed to detect symptomatic infection with Babesia microti, Babesia duncani, and Babesia divergens/MO-1, it may detect low-grade asymptomatic parasitemia in individuals in babesiosis-endemic areas. Thus, it should only be used for testing patients with a clinical history and symptoms consistent with babesiosis.


The EHRL / Ehrlichia/Anaplasma, Molecular Detection, PCR, Blood assay should not be used for screening asymptomatic individuals, and should only be used to test patients with signs and symptoms of ehrlichiosis or anaplasmosis.


A negative result does not indicate absence of disease.


The EHRL test may detect DNA of Ehrlichia canis (reported to cause asymptomatic infection in Venezuela only).


The EHRL test does not detect DNA of Rickettsia (formerly Ehrlichia) sennetsu, which has been reported to cause a rare mononucleosis-like illness in humans (in Japan and Malaysia).


Inadequate specimen draw or improper conditions for storage or transport may invalidate test results.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.






Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

Diaz J: Chapter 297: Ticks (including tick paralysis). In Mandell, Doublass, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. Vol 2. Seventh edition. Edited by GL Mandell, JE Bennett, R Dolin, Philadelphia, Churchill Livingston, 2010, pp 3649-3661