New tick-borne infection similar to Lyme disease found in humans
Excerpted from Health abd Fitness: (01/16/2013)
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A new tick-borne infection, similar to Lyme disease, has been found in humans in the Northeast region for the first time, according to researchers at the Yale schools of Public Health and Medicine.
And while its unfamiliarity may result in some misdiagnosis — the disease, carried by deer ticks, has yet to be given a name — the good news is that the same treatment used for Lyme disease will cure this infection as well.
The report, whose primary author is Dr. Peter Krause, senior research scientist at the School of Public Health, is published in the Jan. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
So far 18 patients in southern New England and New York state have been found to have the infection, caused by a bacterium, Borrelia miyamotoi, according to a release. It was first found in ticks in 1995 in Japan, then in deer ticks in Connecticut in 2001, Krause said.
“The first time it was discovered in humans was 2011,” when 46 cases of this disease were reported in central Russia, he said.
The discovery is unusual because usually new tick-borne diseases are found when people get sick and then are traced to the insect.
“This is the first time we have found an infectious organism carried by ticks before we have recognized the disease in humans,” said Durland Fish, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health and the study s senior author, in the release. “We usually discover new diseases during an epidemic and then try to figure out what is causing it.”
While the number of cases so far is small, Krause said there are 30,000 reported cases of Lyme disease in this country each year, and that infection is probably seven times as common as the new disease, which would make more than 4,000 cases. But scientists believe the actual number of Lyme disease infections each year is 10 times as high as the reported number.