Is China’s Anaplasmosis the Next Lyme Disease?

Excerpted from DailyFinance.com  ( Posted: 09/22/2010 )

Stocks of Chinese drugmakers rose to four-month highs recently after reports that a tick-borne disease, human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), has claimed 18 lives in China‘s central Henan province. Henan is a long way from the Northeast U.S., but anytime a tick-borne disease makes news, it raises concerns in such areas.

Could anaplasmosis, which is caused by the Anaplasma phagocytophilum bacterium, spread from China to be the next Lyme disease in the U.S.? After all, both diseases are transmitted by ticks — small arachnids that live in wooded areas, brushy fields and around the home, and survive by feeding on the blood of the host.

Turns out it found a home a while ago in the U.S. “Anaplasmosis is a disease that is already endemic in some parts of the U.S., particularly the Northeast and upper Midwest,” says Dr. Joanna Regan, a medical epidemiologist at a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, “more research is needed to assess whether strains of A. phagocytophilum circulating in the U.S. are different from strains currently found in China,” she adds.

“In the U.S., the tick responsible for transmission of A. phagocytophilum in the upper Midwest and Northeast is the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Along the West Coast, the western black-legged tick (I. pacificus) may transmit the organism,” Regan explains. States reporting the highest incidence of anaplasmosis in 2008 were Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York (upstate).

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~ by Rob on September 23, 2010.

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