Posts Tagged US spread of lyme disease
A new study of a 5,300 year old iceman found genetic material leading them to believe that the man had Lyme disease.
The body of what is now known as Otzi was discovered encased in ice in the Alps back in 1991. Since then, scientists have worked to discover as much as they can about him, his environment and the world 5,300 years ago through his body. Looking to learn more about him genetically, a sample was taken from Otzi’s hip bone and was tested. Along with learning about his appearance, researchers learned a lot about his possible health problems including heart disease and lactose intolerance. They also found evidence of borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme in the hip bone sample. More information on the study can be found on the International Business Times website.
“This is the oldest evidence of Lyme disease and proof that this infection was already present 5,000 years ago,” says lead researcher Carsten Pusch.
Until know, the earliest record of Lyme disease dated back to 1883 and was first diagnosed in the US in Lyme, CT in the ‘70s. In the last study by the CDC, there were over 20,000 confirmed cases in the United States in 2010.
Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks when they take a blood meal. When it isn’t readily diagnosed, Lyme disease can be debilitating, causing severe joint pain and headaches. The most common symptoms are a bulls-eye shaped rash and fatigue. If you are ever bitten by a tick, make sure to place it in a ziplock bag in case it needs to be tested.
With this new information, the question remains: should it be Otzi disease?
A recent study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene focused on one of our hot topics here at Mosquito Squad: Lyme disease. Over 5300 tick nymphs were collected between 2004 and 2006 in the eastern half of the United States (37 states) and were studied to see if borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) was present in the gut. The results were somewhat surprising.
Lyme disease was first found in Lyme, CT in 1975. Since then, the disease has been slowly spreading south. As you can see in the study’s map to the left, the study confirmed a common presence of Lyme disease from Maine to Northern Virginia with the eastern coast’s hot bed in the Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey area.
The United States has a second hot bed for Lyme in the Midwest, primarily in Wisconsin and Minnesota. What is interesting to note is the very low occurrence of Lyme between the two hot beds. The researchers noted in their discussion that even in areas where the Lyme risked is illustrated as low, it doesn’t mean that it does not exist and body checks should always be performed when spending time in a potential tick zone.
Lyme disease is a potentially debilitating illness that can have lifelong affects if not treated early. Symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever and headaches. It’s important that if you ever find a tick on you, to remove it safely (here are the CDC’s recommendations for removing a tick) and place it in a plastic bag in case you need to have it tested.
Mosquito Squad is happy to help fight the bite against ticks. If you live in an area where ticks are a problem, contact your local Squad and ask about our tick control program.