September 24, 2011
Press Release- It Looks Like Lyme, But It’s Not Lyme Disease
Ticks responsible for transmitting Lyme disease may carry an organism that can cause prolonged, relapsing illness in humans. A study to be released in October 2011, Humans infected with relapsing fever spirochete Borrelia miyamotoi, Russia, by Platonov AE, et al. states the infection is responsible for a relapsing disease that may last for months. No tests are commercially available, and a curative treatment protocol, if one exists, has yet to be established.
Japanese scientists named the organism Borrelia miyamotoi in 1995 and within a year constructed maps of the chromosome. Since then it has been detected in humans, ticks, birds and other wildlife in at least seven countries, including the United States and Canada.
The disease is characterized by a flu-like illness, headache, chills, fatigue, vomiting, myalgias, neck stiffness, and a high fever. Only 9% of study participants reported a rash. Additional symptoms can include ocular, neurologic, respiratory, cardiac, and pregnancy complications associated with relapsing fevers.
University of Tennessee reported 58% of the turkeys harvested in 2009 tested positive for B. miyamotoi. Fisheries and Wildlife at University of Michigan detected the organism in ticks and other wildlife in Michigan. NY, RI, NJ, CT, and CA have also reported finding the organism. German scientists warn that B. miyamotoi, unlike Lyme disease, appears to be readily passed between generations of ticks.
A $300,000 NIH grant to investigate B. miyamotoi and other Borrelia species has been awarded. Grant recipients report it is possible that “some prolonged episodes of illness attributed to Lyme disease and designated as "chronic Lyme disease" are due to B. miyamotoi infection.” Patients may remain undiagnosed because the disease can be confused with viral infections, Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis or any number of illnesses.
Lyme disease alone is estimated to cost society over two billion dollars a year, which raises concerns about the additional health and financial burden of tick borne diseases for which there are no reliable tests and no known successful treatment protocols, including any of the 300+ known strains of Borrelia that may or may not cause human or animal disease.
Contact Person: Lucy Barnes
Volunteer Patient Advocate
Additional Reading on Borrelia miyamotoi
1996 Hiroshima Japan