Questions and Answers about Tick-Borne Illness Testing

Dr. Konstance Knox discusses benefits of tick-borne disease testing

Question: What benefit is it to patients to test for multiple genospecies of borrelia?

Dr. Knox:

While B burgdorferi is the dominant borrelia species found in US patients, infections with other genospecies of borrelia have been seen (B. afzelii, B. garinii) and other strains of the bacteria have been identified in ticks in the US (B. miyamotoi). Standard FDA approved Lyme testing will not detect these infections and patients will remain undiagnosed and untreated.

Coppe Labs Lyme Immunoblot Test Result

We recently had a case where a patient diagnosed as negative for Lyme disease by another laboratory had a confirmed B. afzelii by our testing. We can no longer assume that Borrelia species mostly endemic to Europe and Asia cannot be detected here.

In addition, in February 2016 CDC confirmed a discovery made by Mayo Clinic researchers that a new species of Borrelia genetically distinct from Borrelia burgdorferi was identified in patients with suspected Lyme Disease (CDC News Release). Similar to B. miyamotoi, this new borrelia species (provisionally named Borrelia mayonii) appears not to cause the typical “bulls-eye rash” in infected patients. These varied clinical presentations seen with bacteria causing Lyme or Lyme-like illness are the reasons that Coppe Laboratories has chosen to perform enhanced testing that would detect these multiple genospecies.


Question: Why should we test for Powassan or other arthropod borne viruses when there is no FDA approved therapy?

Dr. Knox:

Confirming that a patient with a tick exposure acquired a virus rather than a bacterial infection would save the patient unnecessary antibiotic treatment. In the case of a mixed infection (bacterial and viral), persistent symptoms after appropriate antibiotic treatment is very possibly due to the virus; this knowledge would save the patient weeks or months of unnecessary antibiotic usage and potentially very costly and complex IV antibiotic treatment.

On the other hand, the fact that viruses belonging to the same family and genus as Powassan virus are known to inhibit immune function and interfere with a person’s ability to defend against other invading pathogens suggests that patients with co-infections may benefit from extended antibiotic therapy following acute infection. Immune modulatory drugs such as the interferons may be an option for treatment in the future.


Question: What do you want patients to know about Coppe Labs?

Dr. Knox:

From the beginning with our founding of ViraCor Laboratories in 2000 and continuing with Coppe Healthcare Solutions, we’ve worked to identify gaps in clinical knowledge and develop new diagnostic testing strategies to provide better answers for patients. At Coppe Laboratories we are research scientists with sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and understand that one thing worse than being sick is not knowing what is making you sick. We are dedicated to helping physicians accurately diagnose illnesses to support the best treatment options and ensure better outcomes for patients.



Konstance Knox, PhD – CEO Coppe Laboratories

Konstance K. Knox, PhDKonstance K. Knox, PhD is a virologist and microbiologist who founded Viracor, the Wisconsin Viral Research Group (WVRG), and the non-profit Institute for Viral Pathogenesis (IVP). Drs. Knox and Carrigan were first to associate HHV-6 infection with MS.



About Coppe Laboratories

Coppe Laboratories is a contract research organization and a CLIA-certified reference laboratory in Waukesha, Wisconsin (USA) specializing in research and diagnostics for emerging viral diseases. Since its founding in 2012, Coppe has delivered unparalleled clinical lab service to academic and children’s hospitals, integrative medicine specialists, and clinical research centers nationwide. Our scientists provide custom contract research services, designing essential experiments and providing preliminary data in support of biotech and pharmaceutical industries worldwide.

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