J Clin Rheumatol. 2003 Apr;9(2):77-87.
Evidence for disseminated Mycoplasma fermentans in New Jersey residents with antecedent tick attachment and subsequent musculoskeletal symptoms.
Mycoplasma species are one of nature's most abundant groups of microbes. These bacteria inhabit a wide diversity of insect, plant, and animal species, including humans. Certain mycoplasma species have been identified in blood-sucking arthropods, including Ixodes ticks. Frequent human exposure to this genus of ticks led us to explore the possibility of tick-mediated transmission of these bacteria. We evaluated 7 residents of central New Jersey who developed fatigue, musculoskeletal symptoms, and cognitive disturbance after tick attachment. All 7 of these patients lacked both serological evidence and erythema migrans skin lesions characteristic of Lyme disease. We were able to amplify and quantitate Mycoplasma fermentans-specific DNA from their peripheral blood lymphocytes. After antimicrobial therapy, symptoms subsided, and M. fermentans DNA could no longer be detected in their blood specimens. These findings suggest that a subset of disseminated M. fermentans infections may be a vector-mediated process in humans and should be considered in patients with puzzling musculoskeletal presentations.
PMID: 17041434 [PubMed]