Tick-Borne disease discovered in the United States
Excerpted from examiner.com : (02/21/2013)
Joseph Gugliotta, M.D., an Infectious Disease Specialist at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, N.J., successfully diagnosed and treated the first confirmed case of Borrelia miyamotoi, a bacteria carried by ticks that causes symptoms similar to Lyme disease, in North America.
Borrelia miyamotoi is a spirochete bacteria spread from the same species of tick that spreads the causative agent of Lyme Disease. The deer tick has been feared since the 1970’s when it was discovered that they were the primary carriers of deadly Lyme disease.
The findings, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 17, 2013, prove the existence of the formerly unnamed pathogen first reported in Russia in 2011, and will have direct implications on the future diagnosis and treatment of Borrelia miyamotoi. Led by Gugliotta, the article was co-authored with Heidi Goether, Sc.D. and Victor Berardi, MS of Imugen Inc., and Sam Telford, Sc. D. of Tufts University.
“Further research is being conducted on this organism, but we have shown – without a doubt – that this organism can cause disease and it may be responsible for an illness in a patient that tests negative for Lyme disease,” explained Dr. Gugliotta. “Currently, Imugen can test blood samples to determine the presence of this pathogen, but as we move into our second phase of research, they are working to create markers to conduct a rapid test for the organism which will allows us diagnose the disease quickly in patients.”
The infection was discovered last year in patient Anne Felix, an 80-year-old non-Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor. Within a four-month period, she experienced severe weight loss, increased confusion and withdrew from daily activities. After testing negative for Lyme disease, Gugliotta conducted a large-volume spinal tap procedure, which led to the discovery of spirochetes, a corkscrew-shaped bacteria, in the patient’s spinal fluid. Felix was treated with a high dose of penicillin and began recovering after only five days, and within 30-days she returned to normal with the only remaining effect being minor hearing loss.
“Unfortunately, this disease has gone undiagnosed for many years, especially in older patients,” said Gugliotta. “I hope that this discovery and the continued research and advancements in detection will help other doctors and patients recognize the need for treatment.”