[at-l] New Tick Borne Disease
dfaddleton at gmail.com
Mon Sep 26 06:22:06 CDT 2011
New Tick-Borne Disease Is DiscoveredBy DONALD G. McNEIL
September 19, 2011
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A new tick-borne disease that may be stealthily infecting some Americans has
been discovered by Yale researchers working with Russian scientists.
The disease is caused by a spirochete bacterium called Borrelia miyamotoi,
which is distantly related to Borrelia burgdorferi, the spirochete that
causes Lyme disease<http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/lyme-disease/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier>
B. miyamotoi has been found — albeit relatively rarely — in the same deer
tick species that transmit Lyme, and the Yale researchers estimate that
perhaps 3,000 Americans a year pick it up from tick bites, compared with
about 25,000 who get Lyme disease.
But there is no diagnostic test for it in this country, so it is not yet
known whether it has actually made any Americans sick.
The same short course of
normally cures Lyme also seems to cure it.
In Russia, where a team in the Siberian city of Yekaterinburg developed a
test that can distinguish miyamotoi from other tick-borne spirochetes, it
caused higher fevers than Lyme disease typically does. In about 10 percent
of cases, the fevers repeatedly disappear and return after a week or two.
The study <http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/pdfs/10-1474-ahead_of_print.pdf> by the
two teams is to be published soon in the journal Emerging Infectious
Diseases. Since the disease was only recently discovered, it is unknown
whether it does serious long-term damage, as untreated Lyme disease can.
The Yale medical school researchers — Durland Fish, an entomologist, and Dr.
Peter J. Krause, an epidemiologist — have recently won a grant from the
National Institutes of Health to study the symptoms and develop a rapid
Dr. Fish found B. miyamotoi in American
years ago, but was repeatedly refused a study grant until the Russians
proved it caused illness. “It’s been like pulling teeth,” he said. “Go ask
the N.I.H. why.”
The discovery will no doubt add to the controversy surrounding Lyme disease.
While most Lyme victims are cured by a two-week course of antibiotics, some
have symptoms that go on for years and believe they have persistent
infections that the antibiotics did not reach.
Most medical authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and the Infectious Disease Society of America, take the position
that “chronic Lyme
does not exist and that those victims either have other illnesses or are
hypochondriacs. They oppose the solution demanded by some self-proclaimed
victims: long-term intravenous antibiotics.
Dr. Krause said it was unlikely that the new spirochete could be responsible
for chronic Lyme, because the symptoms do not match: Most of those who think
they have chronic Lyme complain of fatigue and joint
not repeated fevers.
But he said doctors might consider the new infection, especially in patients
who think they have been bitten by ticks, come up negative on Lyme tests and
have recurrent episodes of
B. miyamotoi does not appear to cause the “bull’s-eye rash” that helps
doctors diagnose Lyme disease, the Russian team found.
“People shouldn’t panic,” Dr. Krause said. “And they also should not jump to
the conclusion that we’ve found the cause of chronic Lyme disease. It’s not
highly likely, but it’s possible. We just don’t know.”
The miyamotoi spirochete was discovered in Japan in 1995. It was at first
believed to be limited to those islands.
In 2001, Dr. Fish found it in about 2 percent of the deer ticks in the
Northeast and Upper Midwest and proved that mice could pick it up from tick
A version of this article appeared in print on September 20, 2011, on page
D6 of the New York edition with the headline: New Tick-Borne Disease Is
With best regards,
David F. Addleton
Attorney at Law
practicing consumer law as
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