Wednesday, June 5, 2013

© Georgia Lyme Disease Association,



Dr. Clark's Research May Help Millions

For the first time ever, University of North Florida's Dr. Kerry Clark and colleagues reported finding two species of Lyme disease bacteria previously unknown to infect humans, Borrelia americana and Borrelia andersonii, in symptomatic patients living in the Southeastern USA. Importantly, the commonly found lone star tick, formerly believed by many to be incapable of transmitting Lyme disease, was implicated in some of these cases.

The research, published in the May issue of The International Journal of Medical Sciences, is extremely significant for several reasons.  First, only one Lyme bacterial species, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto (Bbss), was previously recognized to cause disease in North America.  Current testing methods and interpretation criteria, designed to detect just one species,  may explain many of the complaints involving the unreliability of Lyme disease tests in the USA.

In addition, the belief  that only black-legged "deer" ticks can transmit Lyme disease has been widely publicized for decades.  Lyme disease risk has been calculated largely based upon the prevalence and infection rate of these "deer" ticks,  Ixodes scapularis.  In fact, Yale University recently released a new Lyme Disease Risk Map funded by a $2.9 million CDC grant which was highly contested by many. (They only tested a total of nine black-legged ticks from a few southern states.)   Yale's map, based solely on "deer" ticks,  shows little risk to people living outside the Northeastern USA.  Clark's findings, together with past studies implicating lone star ticks associated with Lyme disease (Masters, Rawlings, Felz, Feir, etc.), strongly suggest otherwise. 

Dr. Clark and his team identified lone star ticks, Amblyomma americanum,  removed from humans who tested positive for Lyme bacteria, including the species of Borrelia burgdorferi, Bbss, already known to cause the disease in North AmericaSome of the ticks removed from the patients tested positive, too. 

Lone star ticks are the most commonly found species biting humans in the Southeastern United States.  These aggressive ticks are found almost halfway across the nation - from the deep South and as far north as Canada. This groundbreaking research may clarify why so many humans living outside of the Northeastern USA claim they have contracted Lyme disease** regardless of the absence or low prevalence rate of  infected black-legged "deer" ticks. 

The new findings significantly expand the geographic area where Lyme disease should be considered by medical providers and citizens alike.  As Georgia Lyme Disease Association president Liz Schmitz remarked, "If only one percent of these ticks are able to transmit Lyme disease, it poses a tremendous threat to public health because lone star ticks are known to bite humans so frequently."
Dr. Clark's work may help millions of chronically ill people living in areas where Lyme disease wasn't previously recognized.  Called The New Great Imitator, Lyme disease is often mistaken for illnesses such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's, ADHD, and even Alzheimer's.

Georgia Lyme Disease Association is proud to have provided both technical assistance and funding in support Dr. Clark's important research.

 ** For decades, public health officials and Lyme disease groups and organizations have heard from thousands of patients living outside known "endemic" areas who claim they and/or their family members contracted Lyme disease with no travel history.  With 715 cases on record, Georgia was the 4th highest state in the nation in CDC-reported Lyme cases in 1989 but reported only 10 by 2010.  Most cases of southern Lyme disease now  go unreported due to the different regional surveillance guidelines used.  Southern cases are often dismissed as "false positives."

New! GALDA campaign to fund the work of Dr. Kerry Clark & colleagues:  Please help us support the ongoing research efforts of  Dr. Kerry Clark by making a tax-deductible donation to GALDA's new fundraising campaign.  GALDA is an all-volunteer, non-profit 501(3)c organization.  All proceeds of this campaign will go directly to support the important work of Dr. Clark and his colleagues.

Five...ten... twenty dollars...every bit helps!  Let's speed up our understanding of Lyme disease by working together to unlock Borrelia burgdorferi's secrets!  Patients and citizens everywhere will benefit.   Thank you for your generosity.  Click here to support this great work.
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