If only there were a blood test for Lyme disease that revealed how long you’ve been infected. Then you could trace your illness back to its origin. There is. Sort of. Enter the HNK1 (CD57) Panel.
When I was diagnosed with Lyme in the fall of 2018, at first, I thought I had just gotten infected that spring or summer. The results of my CD57 Panel helped reveal the truth: I had probably battled Lyme since the fall of 2015. In other words, I had been sick for several years.
A Unique Blood Test for Lyme Disease
But what exactly is a CD57 Panel?
CD57 is a group of white blood cells—specifically, natural killer cells—that tends to be low in people with chronic Lyme. As a result, if you have a chronic illness, this panel can help reveal whether your symptoms stem from Lyme.
Healthy people and those with other chronic illnesses tend to have counts between 60 and 360. Chronic Lyme patients tend to have counts under 60. Severely ill patients tend to have counts under 20.
Some doctors try to get your count above 100 before completing your treatment. Otherwise, you might relapse. For some patients, though–me included–boosting our counts can be a challenge.
What Your CD57 Count Can–And Can’t–Reveal
Your CD57 count can reveal that you’ve probably had Lyme disease for at least a year or two. After all, according to my Lyme specialist, that’s how long it usually takes your count to go low.
Unfortunately, your CD57 count can’t reveal exactly how long you’ve been infected. Still, the lower your count, the sicker you are and the longer you may have had Lyme disease.
But, besides a low CD57 count, what other clues point to late-stage Lyme disease? Read “Dizziness and Other Late-Stage Lyme Symptoms!”