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New Tick-Borne Disease Is Discovered

In Lyme Disease, Uncategorized on September 22, 2011 at 9:12 am

The New York Times


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.

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 antibiotics that 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 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 diagnostic kit.

Dr. Fish found B. miyamotoi in American ticks 10 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 disease” 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 pain, 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 fever.

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 bites.


More than 6,000 struck with dengue fever in Pakistan

In Dengue Fever, Uncategorized on September 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm
Pakistanis give blood samples at a dengue fever medical camp in Lahore on September 13, 2011.
Pakistanis give blood samples at a dengue fever medical camp in Lahore on September 13, 2011.
  • A health official says 25 people have died
  • Most of the cases are in the city of Lahore
  • The outbreak has caused panic in the city

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — Dengue fever has killed 25 people and affected more than 6,000 over the past two months in Lahore, Pakistan, a health department spokesman said Monday.

In total, 6,400 cases of dengue fever have been documented, said Ikhlaq Ahmed, spokesman for the health department of Punjab province. Of those, 6,000 are in Lahore, a city of more than 6 million people known as Pakistan‘s cultural capital.

The 25 who died are all from Lahore, in eastern Pakistan. An average of 300 new cases of the virus-based disease, spread by mosquitoes, are being reported in the city daily.

“We prefer to stay at home rather than going shopping,” because of the threat of disease, said Zainab Khan, a 25-year-old professional from Lahore.

Asim Hussain, who works in an office in Lahore, said, “I may lose my job,” since he hasn’t gone to work because of the outbreak.

All the schools in Lahore have been closed by the provincial government, Ahmed said.

The outbreak has created panic in the city, he said, as thousands of people crowd hospitals for testing. The city’s poshest areas are among the hardest hit, he said.

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