Lyme diagnostic maker Quidel pushes rapid testing in summer camp-focused campaign

Quidel's new ad campaign targets summer camp directors and counselors to remind them how to protect staff and campers from catching Lyme disease. (Getty Images)

Summer is time for camp—but it's also prime season for Lyme disease.

That's the reminder from diagnostic maker Quidel, which has launched an awareness campaign highlighting the rise and risk of the tick-borne infection as American summer camps open.

Describing the disease as an “epidemic within the pandemic,” the California-based firm, which manufactures the Sofia 2 Lyme FIA test, says people need to know more about the prevalence of Lyme disease, how to prevent it and when and how to test for it. The Lyme virus is predicted to infect as many as 476,000 in the U.S. by year-end.

Lyme disease is growing more common across the U.S. as people spend more time outdoors—and after a warm winter that allowed ticks to thrive and many animals to stay active. 

The campaign targets summer camp directors and counselors, reminding them how to protect staff and campers when they're outdoors and promoting rapid testing to detect Lyme infection early for more effective treatment.

“As the prevalence of Lyme disease intensifies, one thing that all experts agree upon is the need for testing immediately if there are signs that someone may have contracted Lyme disease,” said Judi Tilghman, vice president of technology assessment at Quidel.

Left undiagnosed and untreated, Lyme disease can lead to neurological defects, heart problems and other serious diseases, Tilghman said. “That’s why it is so important to take proper precautions, know the warning signs of Lyme disease and test immediately if Lyme disease is suspected.”

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The campaign involves printed materials, social media, and the launch of a new website, LymeAnswers.com.

The website will contain answers to frequently asked questions such as causes, warning signs, symptoms and prevention. It will also provide infographics showing where Lyme disease is most prevalent, as well as statistics, clinical research, educational videos, links to additional resources, and advances in Lyme disease testing.

Tilghman says the campaign, which is part of a larger public education campaign by Quidel, aims to highlight three areas: how to prevent and reduce the chance of contracting the disease; what signs and symptoms people should look for that would trigger the need to be tested; and what testing is available and why prompt testing is important.

RELATED: Quidel recalls a year’s worth of COVID-19 PCR tests over 'significant risk' of false negatives

As such, the campaign pits Quidel’s rapid diagnostic against the mainstream ELISA test, developed by Immunetics, which was acquired by Oxford Immunotec in 2016.

The downside of ELISA, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, is that it may not produce positive results during the early stages of Lyme disease. Plus, results can take anywhere from 24 hours to several days.

Quidel’s Sofia 2 Lyme FIA test involves a finger prick of blood and can be performed on-site by a nurse at summer camp, with results available within 15 minutes. This leads to speedier diagnosis and treatment. The test can be valid in the early stages of suspected Lyme disease.

Diagnostic firm IGeneX has also developed a test, Lyme ImmunoBlot, that aims to reduce the risk of false negatives and allow earlier detection of the disease. It was launched in 2017.