New tick-borne disease discovered

(Medical Xpress) -- Yale School of Public Health researchers in collaboration with Russian scientists have discovered a new tick-borne bacterium that might be causing disease in the United States and elsewhere. Their findings appear in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

This new disease is caused by a spirochete bacterium called Borrelia miyamotoi, which is distantly related to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes . Yale professor of epidemiology Durland Fish and colleagues found this new spirochete, previously known only from ticks in Japan, in in Connecticut in 2001, but did not know if it caused disease in humans.

The bacteria have since been found in all tick species that transmit Lyme disease throughout the United States and Europe. By collaborating with a medical team studying tick-borne diseases in Russia, Yale researchers were able to compare disease symptoms in patients infected by the new spirochete in Russia with those having Lyme disease in the United States.

The new disease is characterized by , which relapses without treatment and may be confused with Lyme disease. There are currently no diagnostic tests available, but Yale researchers have recently received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a diagnostic test procedure to look for cases of this new disease in the United States.

"This is the first time we will have a chance to identify a new tick-borne disease in the United States based upon evidence that the agent occurs in ticks," said Fish, co-author of the paper and co-investigator on the NIH grant along with Peter Krause, a senior research scientist in the Division of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases.

They report finding B. miyamotoi in about 2 percent of the deer ticks in the Northeast and Upper Midwest and have been conducting experiments with mice in the laboratory that become infected when fed upon by deer ticks. Because bites from deer ticks cause more than 25,000 cases of Lyme disease each year, according to the CDC, the Yale team is gearing up to determine if there is any illness that is caused by B. miyamotoi infection in the United States.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Birds Play an Important Role in the Spread of Lyme Disease

Dec 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The range of Lyme disease is spreading in North America and it appears that birds play a significant role by transporting the Lyme disease bacterium over long distances, a new study by the Yale School of ...

Recommended for you

Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

1 hour ago

Eight months into West Africa's Ebola outbreak, aid efforts in Guinea still suffer from poor coordination, hampering deployments of international support to help quell a virus that has killed more than 1,200 ...

Long wait yet for Ebola vaccine: experts

6 hours ago

It will be months, at least, before a vaccine becomes available to tackle Ebola, experts said Thursday as researchers reported success in early, safety tests with a leading candidate.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Isaacsname
not rated yet Sep 20, 2011
Just discovered 10 years ago....?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.