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Lyme Disease: CDC Identifies New Bacteria

Feb 09, 2016 06:03 PM EST

A new Lyme disease bacteria species has been discovered, according to a report authored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with input from the Mayo Clinic and Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota health officials.

The new bacteria, Borrelia mayonii, occurs in addition to Borrelia burgdorferi, the already-known bacteria that is believed to cause Lyme disease in North America.
Early awareness of the new bacteria started at the Mayo Clinic, when six people with what was suspected to be Lyme disease showed unusual results in their lab tests.

Findings regarding the new bacteria were recently published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. The bacteria is close kin to the existing strain, B. burgdorferi, according to further genetic testing at the Mayo Clinic and the CDC.

"This discovery adds another important piece of information to the complex picture of tickborne diseases in the United States," Dr. Jeannine Petersen at the CDC said in a release.

So far, this new bacteria has been seen only in the upper Midwest. There are a few differences between the two bacteria, but many similarities. B. mayonii, for instance, also brings on fever, rash, headache and neck pain in its early days after exposure. Later, arthritis follows, weeks after exposure. In a difference, though, B. mayonii can cause nausea and vomiting, a range of rashes (not only a so-called "bull's-eye" rash) and bacteria present in a higher concentration in the blood.

The belief is that both bacteria enter a human's bloodstream via the bite of an infected "deer" or blacklegged tick. The new bacteria has shown up in blacklegged ticks sourced from at least two northwestern Wisconsin counties. The patients described in the journal article were likely exposed in north central Minnesota and western Wisconsin. However, the report notes that infected ticks are probably located throughout both states.

If you'd like more information on tick-borne disease, go to the CDC site here

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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