The positive predictive value of Borrelia burgdorferi serology in the light of symptoms of patients sent to an outpatient service for tick-borne diseases

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Objective: By using the published incidence of Lyme borreliosis in endemic regions of the World, and the sensitivity and specificity data of the best Lyme serological tests, we computed the positive predictive value of Borrelia burgdorferi antibody testing. Methods: The calculation of predictive value was based on Bayes' theorem. We also analyzed the frequency distribution of the specific and non-specific symptoms and complaints of 27,194 patients sent to the Centre for Tickborne Diseases in Budapest from 1986 to 2008. Results: This evaluation demonstrated that practitioners often use Lyme serology in a "trial and error" way, without any reasonable ground. According to our calculation the positive predictive value of the best Lyme antibody tests if applied in this way is <9.1%. Conclusion: Our study suggests that the present practice of applying Lyme serological tests may result in more harm than benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-964
Number of pages6
JournalInflammation Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010



  • Borrelia burgdorferi antibody testing
  • False positivity
  • Positive predictive value
  • Specificity of lyme serology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology

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