A team of researchers including scientists from Rutgers has developed techniques to detect Lyme disease bacteria weeks sooner than current tests, allowing patients to seek treatment earlier.

One of the researchers for the new tests is Steven Schutzer, a physician-scientist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Roughly 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the U.S. every year, but many are not diagnosed in a timely fashion.

Dr. Michael Jaker, associate professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said with early and accurate diagnosis, doctors can give people with Lyme the appropriate antibiotics — and not give antibiotics to people who don't.

The problem with the current test, Jaker said, is it doesn't distinguish between who's infected  now and who became infected years ago. False positives which can be a real problem.

The new tests, which still need approval from the Federal Drug Administration, find the DNA of the bacteria that is currently infecting a patient.

Lyme disease symptoms include chronic fatigue, joint pain and muscle aches, which are common in many other diseases. Lyme disease signs frequently, but not always include a red ring or bull's-eye skin rash. But when there is no rash, a reliable test is needed to indicate the active disease.

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