A blood type can help to make it easier for you to get better at avoiding a potentially deadly condition called Lyme disease, according to a new study.
The new findings come as many Canadians are facing the possibility of contracting the disease after having blood type tests done for the first time.
The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that while many Canadians have been tested for Lyme disease through their doctors and hospitals, only a small number have been fully tested for it in a clinical setting.
The researchers say this may be because many Canadians believe they have antibodies that are more protective than they actually are, leading to false positive results.
The blood type test also has limited applicability, they wrote.
The study found that most Canadians who have had blood type tested have been either positive or negative, but only a minority have had positive results for the disease.
“The results of the current study provide evidence of the importance of blood type testing in the prevention of Lyme disease,” said lead author Dr. Matthew J. Riddick, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Waterloo’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.
“However, further work is needed to determine whether the results are reflective of actual infection or if it is the case that many people have antibodies which protect against Lyme infection.”
Dr. Matthew Riddack says many Canadians mistakenly believe they’re immune to Lyme disease.
(CBC)While the study focused on patients who had tested positive for the infection, it also found that other factors, such as the patient’s level of physical activity, could be considered to help determine whether a person is infected.
“These findings provide additional support for the notion that the immune system can play a role in the development of Lyme,” the study authors wrote.
Dr. Rynick said the findings provide another reason for Canadians to be cautious of getting tested for the condition, saying the lack of testing is “really a health concern”.
“There’s no reason that we can’t be positive if we’ve had blood tests, but it’s a little bit of a leap of faith,” he said.
The report says the type of blood test a person receives may also influence their chances of being infected.
In the case of people who are positive for Lyme, it could be the result of a reaction to an experimental drug that has not yet been approved for clinical use.
“So, that would mean they’ve been on an experimental treatment that hasn’t been tested on humans, and therefore they’re probably a little more vulnerable to developing Lyme,” he explained.
The most common risk factors for Lyme infection include being obese, being pregnant, taking a blood transfusion or being exposed to contaminated needles or syringes.
People who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease or who have antibodies against it should take precautions to prevent getting the disease, such a blood test or medication, said Dr. Rawn MacNeil, a health science expert with the Canadian Lyme Disease Alliance.
“In some cases, a blood sample could be used to detect the disease in those people, so that’s a great way to reduce risk,” he told CBC News.
“But we also know that in the vast majority of people, it’s really not that dangerous.”