Testing for tick-borne infections

Testing for Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections can be confusing. Blood tests in Canada require specific immune responses to particular species of Borrelia burgdorferi and other tick-borne infections. Patients with early infection, altered immune responses and those who are infected with other species of tick-borne infections can have false negative test results.


Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis. Because many of the symptoms of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections overlap with other health problems, they can also be challenging to diagnose. Patients who present with an erythema migrans, or EM rash should be diagnosed and treated without waiting for blood test results. Not all Lyme rashes look like a classic “bullseye” and must be considered on an individual basis. 

If you have an EM rash or other early symptoms of Lyme disease it’s important to find a clinician that takes your symptoms seriously. Early treatment can prevent long term health problems associated with untreated or under-treated tick-borne infections


Although blood tests may be helpful in supporting the diagnosis, no blood test, including the standard two-tiered test in Canada should be relied upon to rule out tick-borne diseases. Some people who have a negative test can still have Lyme disease, and patients that have symptoms of Lyme disease may have other health problems. 

Diagnostic tests

Many international labs have robust research and development standards; it can be challenging to stay up to date with specific research for each test from each lab. Tests from any lab, domestic or international, need to be interpreted by a clinician, in the context of a thorough patient history and examination. 

Two labs that many Canadian patients use are Armin Labs in Germany and IGeneX in the US. Test results from these labs may look for different species of tick-borne diseases, rely on different immune responses and often contain more detailed reports than standard testing in Canada. CanLyme supports an approach that considers blood test results on an individual basis, and does not categorically support nor reject results from any lab.

Safe tick removal methods

Find out how you can safely remove a tick and have it tested!