Poor Positive Predictive Value of Lyme Disease Serologic Testing in an Area of Low Disease Incidence.

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BACKGROUND: Lyme disease is diagnosed by 2-tiered serologic testing in patients with a compatible clinical illness, but the significance of positive test results in low-prevalence regions has not been investigated. METHODS: We reviewed the medical records of patients who tested positive for Lyme disease with standardized 2-tiered serologic testing between 2005 and 2010 at a single hospital system in a region with little endemic Lyme disease. Based on clinical findings, we calculated the positive predictive value of Lyme disease serology. Next, we reviewed the outcome of serologic testing in patients with select clinical syndromes compatible with disseminated Lyme disease (arthritis, cranial neuropathy, or meningitis). RESULTS: During the 6-year study period 4723 patients were tested for Lyme disease, but only 76 (1.6%) had positive results by established laboratory criteria. Among 70 seropositive patients whose medical records were available for review, 12 (17%; 95% confidence interval, 9%-28%) were found to have Lyme disease (6 with documented travel to endemic regions). During the same time period, 297 patients with a clinical illness compatible with disseminated Lyme disease underwent 2-tiered serologic testing. Six of them (2%; 95% confidence interval, 0.7%-4.3%) were seropositive, 3 with documented travel and 1 who had an alternative diagnosis that explained the clinical findings. CONCLUSIONS: In this low-prevalence cohort, fewer than 20% of positive Lyme disease tests are obtained from patients with clinically likely Lyme disease. Positive Lyme disease test results may have little diagnostic value in this setting.





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Lantos, PM, JA Branda, JC Boggan, SM Chudgar, EA Wilson, F Ruffin, VG Fowler, PG Auwaerter, et al. (2015). Poor Positive Predictive Value of Lyme Disease Serologic Testing in an Area of Low Disease Incidence. Clin Infect Dis, 61(9). pp. 1374–1380. 10.1093/cid/civ584 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13905.

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Paul Michael Lantos

Professor of Medicine

I am interested in the spatial epidemiology of infectious diseases. My research utilizes geographic information systems (GIS) and geostatistical analyses to understand the spatial and spatiotemporal distribution of diseases, and their relationship with environmental and demographic factors. I currently have active studies evaluating the spatial distribution of numerous domestic and international infectious diseases, including SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), cytomegalovirus, influenza, and Lyme disease. Additionally I am interested in maternal-child health, and I have a number of ongoing studies of neighborhood health disparities in obstetrical care and birth outcomes. I am interested in GIS education and have conducted workshops on public health GIS in Mongolia and China.


Joel Boggan

Associate Professor of Medicine

I am a hospital medicine physician interested in quality improvement, patient safety, and medical education across the UME, GME, and CME environments. My current QI and research projects include work on readmissions, inpatient ORYX and patient experience measures, clinical documentation improvement, medication reconciliation, and appropriate utilization of inpatient resources. Alongside this work, I serve as the lead mentor for our Durham VA Chief Resident in Quality and Safety within the Department of Medicine and the Program Director for the Duke University Hospital CRQS.

As Associate Program Director for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety in the Duke Internal Medicine Residency Program, I oversee QI and safety education and projects for our residents and help co-lead our Residency Patient Safety and Quality Council. Additionally, I supervise housestaff and students on our general medicine wards, precept housestaff evidence-based medicine resident reports, and serve as a small group leader for our second-year medical student Clinical Skills Course. Finally, I lead our Innovation Sciences committee as part of the ongoing School of Medicine Curriculum Innovation Initiative.


Saumil Mahendra Chudgar

Professor of Medicine

Medical Education
Assessment of Clinical Skills
Clinical Reasoning
Curriculum Development


Felicia Ruffin

Research Program Leader, Tier 1

Vance Garrison Fowler

Florence McAlister Distinguished Professor of Medicine

Determinants of Outcome in Patients with Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia
Antibacterial Resistance
Pathogenesis of Bacterial Infections
Tropical medicine/International Health

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