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New Lyme Disease Causing Bacteria Discovered in Midwest

Update Date: Apr 13, 2016 04:54 AM EDT
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Health officials in the United States found a new strain of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It's been dubbed Borrelia mayonii after the team of Mayo Clinic researchers who helped discover it.

Punch reports that before this discovery, Borrelia burgdorferi was the only well-known bacteria that caused Lyme disease. However, when six people exhibiting Lyme disease symptoms were found to have unusual lab results, further genetic testing was done at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

What the CDC and the Mayo Clinic discovered was that the new species of bacteria caused nausea, vomiting, diffuse rashes instead of the usual "bull's eye" rash associated with Lyme disease, and a higher concentration of bacteria in the blood. This is in addition to the more common Lyme disease symptoms such as fever, headache, neck pain, and the previously mentioned bull's-eye rash. In the later stages of the infection, arthritis may occur.

Lyme disease typically comes from a bite from an infected tick. If found early, it can be cured with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system. However, it can still be cured. Borrelia mayonii is believed to be spread by the black-legged tick or a deer tick.

According to WMUR, researchers believe that Borrelia mayonii is confined to the Midwest only. Two infected ticks were found in Wisconsin but there could be others in Minnesota. Out of 9000 samples drawn in the Midwest only six patients were found to be infected. They were also unable to find the bacteria in at least 25,000 blood samples of infected people in 43 other states.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center owes the discovery to advancements in technology that allowed for the identification of this new bacteria. It's highly possible that Borrelia mayonii has always been there but scientists then were unable to find out what it was.

Patients diagnosed with the new Lyme disease were treated with antiobiotics commonly given to infections of B. burgdorferi. Health centers were advised to follow the the Infectious Diseases Society of America's antibiotic regimen in treating people with B. mayonii.

As of the moment, the CDC is working together with the state health departments of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota in order to learn more about B. mayonii and the type of illnesses it can cause as well as the locations of infected ticks.

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