Background. The commercially-available C6 Lyme enzyme immunoassay (EIA) has been approved to replace the standard whole-cell sonicate EIA as a first-tier test for the diagnosis of Lyme disease and has been suggested as a stand-alone diagnostic. However, the C6 EIA has not been extensively studied in pediatric patients undergoing evaluation for Lyme disease.
Methods. We collected discarded serum samples from children and adolescents (aged ≤21 years) undergoing conventional 2-tiered testing for Lyme disease at a single hospital-based clinical laboratory located in an area endemic for Lyme disease. We performed a C6 EIA on all collected specimens, followed by a supplemental immunoblot if the C6 EIA result was positive but the whole-cell sonicate EIA result was negative. We defined a case of Lyme disease as either a clinician-diagnosed erythema migrans lesion or a positive standard 2-tiered serologic result in a patient with symptoms compatible with Lyme disease. We then compared the performance of the C6 EIA alone and as a first-tier test followed by immunoblot, with that of standard 2-tiered serology for the diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Results. Of the 944 specimens collected, 114 (12%) were from patients with Lyme disease. The C6 EIA alone had sensitivity similar to that of standard 2-tiered testing (79.8% vs 81.6% for standard 2-tiered testing; P = .71) with slightly lower specificity (94.2% vs 98.8% 2; P < .002). Addition of a supplemental immunoblot improved the specificity of the C6 EIA to 98.6%.
Conclusions. For children and adolescents undergoing evaluation for Lyme disease, the C6 EIA could guide initial clinical decision making, although a supplemental immunoblot should still be performed.