Archive for the ‘research’ Category

How to Protect Yourself From Ticks With Permethrin-Treated Clothing


Several studies have found that wearing permethrin-treated clothing can reduce the risk of tick bites. But very few studies have looked at the behavior of a tick when it comes in contact with permethrin-treated clothing. Does it climb onto the insecticide-soaked textile or avoid it entirely? Does permethrin actually kill ticks?

As more individuals begin to venture outside with warmer weather, there are often concerns over how to protect yourself from ticks. Researchers have examined not only the effectiveness of various repellents and protective clothing but also the behavior of individuals who are more likely to encounter ticks.

Researchers in Indiana looked at the protective measures used by recreational hikers in their state. Surprisingly, they found that only 9.5% of hikers used a tick repellent, even fewer (3.4%) wore protective clothing and only 2 individuals “indicated that they took a shower post-recreation and used that activity to search for tick bites.” [1]

Ultrasonic device

Meanwhile, investigators in Australia recently studied the efficacy of ultrasonic pest repellent devices against the Australian paralysis tick, Ixodes holocyclus. “As more than 80% of the ticks were not repelled within the confined area, this level of repellency is clearly insufficient to provide adequate protection from a potential tick bite,” they conclude. [2]

Permethrin-treated clothing

Several studies have looked at Permethrin-treated clothing in repelling ticks.  Sullivan et al. recruited state and county park employees from North Carolina to wear long-lasting Permethrin-impregnated (LLPI) clothing. The authors found that the clothing “retained Permethrin and bioactivity against ticks after three months of use in real-world conditions.” [3]

A study in Rhode Island aimed to provide insight as to how to protect yourself from ticks by examining Permethrin-treated footwear. The authors found that people wearing sneakers and socks treated with Permethrin were 73.6 times less likely to have a tick bite than those wearing untreated footwear. [4]

Meanwhile, another study explored the behavior of ticks when they encounter Permethrin-treated clothing. How do ticks react? Using a model that mimicked a pant leg or the arm of a long-sleeved shirt, scientists studied the behavior and fate of ticks when exposed to Permethrin-treated clothing. [5]

“Ticks approaching a textile impregnated with a strong non-contact spatial repellent (DEET) very rarely made physical contact with the treated textile,” according to Eisen and colleagues from the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [4]

Tick behavior when exposed to Permethrin

However, Permethrin-treated textiles did not repel ticks without contact, as seen with DEET. In fact, the majority (88%) of nymphal ticks chose to move onto Permethrin-treated textile versus DEET-treated textile.

After coming in contact with the treated clothing, the ticks dislodged through a “hot-foot” effect.

“Ticks readily walked onto a Permethrin-treated textile…. but laboratory-reared ticks became visibly agitated, displaying a hot-foot effect, and escaped contact with the Permethrin-treated textile by tumbling downwards until they dislodged themselves completely from a textile-covered assay card.”

Unfortunately, field-collected ticks were hardier than laboratory-reared ticks and able to sustain longer contact with the treated textile. The authors postulated that field-collected ticks have been exposed to highly variable temperatures and humidity conditions which may result in slower absorption of Permethrin.

“However, by 1 and 24 hours post-exposure very few ticks displayed normal movement, thus presenting minimal risk to bite, regardless of whether they were reared in the laboratory or collected in the field.”

“Contact with Permethrin-treated textiles negatively impacts the vigor and behavior of nymphal ticks for >24 hours,” according to Eisen, “with outcomes ranging from complete lack of movement to impaired movement and unwillingness of ticks displaying normal movement to ascend onto a human finger.”

One day after exposure, a majority of ticks were completely motionless. The remaining ticks were able to recover.

“Ticks having recovered normal movement 1 day after exposure in our study most often ascended onto a finger when given the opportunity (and presumably also were capable of biting),” Eisen points out.

“In a real-life scenario, prolonged periods of time where ticks having fallen off a human host after contact with Permethrin-treated textile are unable to move will undoubtedly increase the risk of mortality due to desiccation or predation.”

“A scenario more difficult to address in a bioassay is when a tick makes initial contact with bare skin and subsequently approaches loose-fitting summer-weight Permethrin treated garments, such as shorts or a T-shirt,” states Eisen.

“In this case, the tick may walk underneath the treated textile and be contacted primarily from the dorsal side as the person moves and the clothing comes in and out of contact with the tick and the person’s skin.”

Permethrin is acutely toxic in high doses. The authors did not address the potential toxicity of Permethrin to humans. “Acute signs of toxicity to the central nervous system include incoordination, ataxia, hyperactivity, convulsions, and finally prostration, paralysis, and death,” according to a review by the National Research Council (US) Subcommittee to Review Permethrin Toxicity from Military Uniforms. [6]

Note: Users have been advised not to inhale Permethrin when treating clothes and not to apply Permethrin to the skin.

Article Updated: June 1, 2021

  1. Anderson KR, Blekking J, Omodior O. Tick trails: the role of online recreational trail reviews in identifying risk factors and behavioral recommendations associated with tick encounters in Indiana. BMC Public Health. 2021;21(1):908. Published 2021 May 13. doi:10.1186/s12889-021-10940-4
  2. Panthawong A, Doggett SL, Chareonviriyaphap T. The Efficacy of Ultrasonic Pest Repellent Devices against the Australian Paralysis Tick, Ixodes holocyclus (Acari: Ixodidae). Insects. 2021;12(5):400. Published 2021 Apr 30. doi:10.3390/insects12050400
  3. Sullivan KM, Poffley A, Funkhouser S, et al. Bioabsorption and effectiveness of long-lasting permethrin-treated uniforms over three months among North Carolina outdoor workers. Parasit Vectors. 2019;12(1):52. Published 2019 Jan 23. doi:10.1186/s13071-019-3314-1
  4. Tick Encounter.
  5. Eisen L, Rose D, Prose R, et al. Bioassays to evaluate non-contact spatial repellency, contact irritancy, and acute toxicity of permethrin-treated clothing against nymphal Ixodes scapularis ticks. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2017.
  6. Health Effects of Permethrin-Impregnated Army Battle-Dress Uniforms (1994) by National Research Council. 1994. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. at Last accessed 8/12/17.


It’s never simple, is it?

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Can A Tick Be Tested For Lyme Disease? And How I Overcame My Fear of Ticks


Researchers examined the prevalence of ticks in the Quebec region, along with the frequency of engorged ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the causative agent of Lyme disease. Their findings suggest that tick testing may not always be an effective tool in determining the risk of infection.

Ticks can be tested for the Lyme disease bacteria and other tick-borne pathogens. But the accuracy of test results may depend on a ticks lifecycle stage.

A study by Gasmi et al. found that results may not be accurate when testing ticks which are engorged. [1] The authors examined 4,596 I. scapularis (blacklegged) ticks removed from individuals living in Quebec.

They found that 24.9% of the non-engorged blacklegged ticks were infected with Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the causative agent of Lyme disease.

Engorged ticks were expected to have an even higher rate of infection with the Lyme disease bacteria. But the prevalence was much lower with only 8.9% of engorged ticks testing positive for the Lyme disease agent. These findings are consistent with those from another Canadian study. [2]

Engorged ticks were expected to have an even higher rate of infection with the Lyme disease bacteria. But the prevalence was much lower.

It is still unclear why testing of engorged ticks is not accurately revealing the higher prevalence of Bb infection. The authors suggest that it could be due to the presence of inhibitors in the blood meal [3] or problems with the collection and transportation of engorged ticks.

Perhaps these findings were “due to simpler reasons such as the greater likelihood that un-engorged ticks remained alive up to DNA extraction, while engorged ticks may well have died days or weeks before testing,” noted Gasmi.

In other words, a tick can be tested for Lyme disease but it isn’t always a reliable tool in determining your risk of infection. If an engorged tick is removed and tested, it is likely to be negative for the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.

  1. Gasmi S, Ogden NH, Leighton PA, Lindsay LR, Thivierge K. Analysis of the human population bitten by Ixodes scapularis ticks in Quebec, Canada: Increasing risk of Lyme disease. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2016.
  2. Dibernardo A, Cote T, Ogden NH, Lindsay LR. The prevalence of Borrelia miyamotoi infection, and co-infections with other Borrelia spp. in Ixodes scapularis ticks collected in Canada. Parasit Vectors. 2014;7:183.
  3. Wilson IG. Inhibition and facilitation of nucleic acid amplification. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997;63(10):3741-3751.



Great reminder that yet again, testing is an imperfect tool for all things Lyme/MSIDS related. This inability to positively identify the presence of infections has plagued doctors and patients alike, but must be accepted and contended with, which is why experienced doctors understand the importance of diagnosing patients clinically based upon symptoms.

Further, I often remind frustrated patients that even IF their test or tick test were to come back positive, it’s highly unlikely they will be treated appropriately as there is often coinfection involvement which requires different medications as well as the fact 28 days or less of the doxycycline monotherapy has failed repeatedlyyet is still used despite evidence to the contrary.  

If you suspect you are infected, get to a Lyme literate doctor asap.  It will save you money, time, and heartache in the end.

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by Dr. Bill Rawls
Updated 6/25/21

Considering that my life was totally disrupted by chronic Lyme disease for more than ten years, you might find it alarming to learn that I walk in the woods with bare legs. And although this might sound risky, I haven’t had any tick bites since my recovery. I’ve had ticks on me, but I haven’t been bitten.

Like many people who contract Lyme, my aversion to ticks kept me removed from nature. So what finally changed my fear?

I became tick aware — doubling down on prevention and keeping tabs on where I go, how I go, when I go, and what I do before and after I go to minimize risk factors. And in the end, my love of the outdoors prevailed. Being in nature is where I’ve always gained strength, and I had to find my way back to heal fully.

Finding My Way Back Nature

My first foray back into nature began at the beach at a state park near my home. Long walks were perfect for generating endorphins, and the sea air did me good. However, as my strength improved, I needed more of a challenge, so I began venturing onto the trails that wove through the tall grasses of the sand dunes and maritime forests of the park.  (See link for article)

Science Journals Engaged in Massive Disinformation Campaign

Science journals engaged in massive disinformation campaign

These highly regarded scientific journals got caught censoring important facts and stifling scientific debate, deriding anything that didn’t protect their Chinese interests

by Dr. Joseph Mercola


  • The Lancet and Nature have both promoted the natural origin theory for SARS-CoV-2, and protected the theory by refusing to publish counter arguments and/or publishing scientific statements by individuals with serious conflicts of interest
  • The Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission included Peter Daszak, Ph.D., president of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that collaborated with various universities and organizations on research in China, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). He was recently taken off the Commission due to controversy over his large number of conflicts of interest
  • The Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission also includes Danielle Anderson, an Australian WIV virologist who left Wuhan shortly before the pandemic broke out. Anderson says she “does not believe” the virus is manmade. Anderson’s Commission biography does not mention that she worked at the WIV
  • In January 2021, 14 global experts submitted a letter to The Lancet in which they argued that “the natural origin is not supported by conclusive arguments and that a lab origin cannot be formally discarded.” The submission was rejected with the justification that the topic was “not a priority” for the journal
  • Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of The Lancet is now being criticized for his long defense and support of the Chinese regime, and is accused of using The Lancet to pursue political causes and stifle scientific debate

More than a year ago, in February 2020, a group of 27 scientists wrote a letter published in The Lancet condemning “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”1

Although The Lancet — like other medical journals — requires contributors to disclose financial or personal interests that might be viewed as possible conflicts of interests with their submissions, the 27 authors declared they had “no competing interests.”

June 21, 2021, The Lancet published an addendum admitting that “some readers have questioned the validity of this disclosure, particularly as it relates to one of the authors, Peter Daszak.”2

As a result, The Lancet asked the 27 signers to “re-evaluate” their competing interests and to declare any “financial and nonfinancial relationships that may be relevant to interpreting the content of their manuscript.” So far, Daszak has updated his previous claim of having no competing interests to include a 416-word disclosure statement clarifying that, indeed, he had several conflicts of interest.

First, he is the president of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that receives funding from a “range of U.S. Government funding agencies and non-governmental sources.”

Second — and most importantly — Daszak also explained that, although its work with China is currently unfunded, he and the Alliance have collaborated with various universities and organizations on research in China, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Specifically, this work includes studies of bats and viruses, including “the isolation of three bat SARS-related coronaviruses that are now used as reagents to test therapeutics and vaccines.”

The Lancet Accused of Kowtowing to China

The COVID pandemic has brought attention to any number of problems within the academic arena. Disturbingly, we’ve discovered that scientific journals held in high regard for many decades — The Lancet has been around for 198 years — are colluding to censor important facts and stifle scientific debate. The Lancet statement deriding the lab leak theory as a conspiracy theory to be ignored is a prime example. As reported by the Daily Mail, June 26, 2021:3

“The Lancet letter, signed by 27 experts, played a key part in silencing scientific, political and media discussion of any idea that this pandemic might have begun with a lab incident rather than spilling over naturally from animals.

It was even reportedly used by Facebook to flag articles exploring the lab leak hypothesis as ‘false information’ … Yet it emerged later that The Lancet statement was covertly drafted by British scientist Peter Daszak — a long-term collaborator with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was carrying out high-risk research on bat coronaviruses and had known safety issues …

Four months later, The Lancet set up a ‘Covid-19 Commission’ to assist governments and scrutinize the origins. It was led by Jeffrey Sachs … Incredibly, he backed Daszak to lead his commission’s 12-person taskforce investigating Covid’s origins — joined by five fellow signatories to The Lancet statement …

Last week The Lancet finally ‘recused’ him from its commission and published an ‘addendum’ to its statement detailing some of his Chinese links. Yet critics say the journal has still failed to admit that six more signatories to that February statement have ties to Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance as directors or partners.

‘It would have been better for The Lancet to have stated that Daszak’s and other signers’ previous declarations were untruthful and to have attached an editorial expression of concern,’ said Richard Ebright, a bio-security expert and professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Now The Mail on Sunday has learned that The Lancet is set to publish a second statement by these signatories that presses the case that Covid probably emerged through natural ‘zoonotic’ transmission from animals to humans.”

Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of The Lancet is now being criticized for his long defense and support of the Chinese regime, and is accused of using The Lancet to pursue political causes and stifle scientific debate.4

In January 2021, 14 global experts submitted a letter to The Lancet in which they argued that “the natural origin is not supported by conclusive arguments and that a lab origin cannot be formally discarded.” Horton rejected the submission, stating it was “not a priority” for the journal.5

“The Lancet also published an entirely made up study claiming hydroxychloroquine was dangerous. This fraudulent paper made the media rounds and led to countries banning the drug’s use against COVID-19.”

Any medical journal worthy of a good reputation needs to be an open platform for wide-ranging debate. Horton’s refusal to publish the other side of the origins argument has without a doubt damaged the credibility and reputation of the journal. Tory MP Bob Seely told the Daily Mail:6

“The claims of a cover-up over the most important scientific issue of our time grow stronger by the day. It is vital we get to the truth over what appears to have been a cover-up on the pandemic origins with the collusion of journals such as The Lancet.”

Let’s also remember that The Lancet published an entirely fake study claiming hydroxychloroquine was dangerous. This paper using completely fabricated data made the media rounds and led to countries banning the drug’s use against COVID-19.

This too raises serious questions about the journal’s credibility. How was this fraud not discovered during the peer review process? Could it be that The Lancet allowed it because it would help protect the roll-out of profitable new COVID drugs and “vaccines”?

What’s Behind Science Journals’ Censorship?

What could possibly be behind science journals’ decision to silence debate in what appears to be a concerted effort to protect Chinese interests? In a June 18, 2021, article,7 Matt Ridley suggests it might have to do with the fact that “scientific papers have become increasingly dependent on the fees that Chinese scientists pay to publish in them, plus advertisements from Chinese firms and subscriptions from Chinese institutions.”

The Lancet is not alone in its less than objective stance on China. In 2017, the Nature journal admitted it censors articles containing words like “Taiwan,” “Tibet” and “cultural revolution” in its Chinese editions at the request of the Chinese government.8 “In April 2020 Nature ran an editorial apologizing for its ‘error’ in ‘associating the virus with Wuhan’ in its news coverage,” Ridley writes.9

Nature also attached an editorial note to several old articles, saying they were being misused “as the basis for unverified theories that the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 was engineered,” and that “there is no evidence that this is true; scientists believe that an animal is the most likely source of the coronavirus.”

One of those articles, published in 2015, was titled “Engineered bat virus stirs debate over risky research.” The research being questioned was done by WIV researchers.

Gaslighting Alert: Abusers Now Play the Victim Card

For the past year and a half, scientists, doctors, reporters and anyone else who dared point out blatant discrepancies in the natural origins narrative have been attacked and painted as quacks and dangerous conspiracy theorists. They’ve been censored, deplatformed and publicly defamed and shamed. Many a fine career has been ruined or seriously tarnished by baseless personal attacks.

Now that undeniable evidence is finally reaching critical mass, natural origin defenders are playing the victim card. For example, Amy Maxmen, Ph.D., a journalist for Nature for the past 13 years, has been covering the SARS-CoV-2 origin debate. In a May 26, 2021, tweet, she stated the “debate over a lab-leak has become toxic and risky.”10

Angela Rasmussen, Ph.D., a natural origin proponent, responded saying that “the origins debate has become a toxic milieu dominated by opportunists, dilettantes, racist/misogynist assholes, and trolls.”11 Rasmussen claims she’s been personally attacked and abused for trying to explain the natural origin theory.

The irony is that the same people who abused others for talking about the lab leak theory are now getting a taste of their own medicine, and they don’t like it. They’re the ones who have been peddling misinformation all along, and as the masses are catching on to the deceit, they’re catching heat.

To deflect and finger-point yet again, abusers are now playing the victim. Another tactic is to claim that attacks on them are attacks on science itself. Dr. Anthony Fauci, for example, has stated this on more than one occasion already.12 13 In a June 2021 MSNBC interview, Fauci said criticizing him was “very dangerous,” and that: 14 15

“A lot of what you’re seeing as attacks on me quite frankly are attacks on science because all of the things I have spoken about from the very beginning have been fundamentally based on science … If you are trying to get at me as a public health official and scientist, you’re really attacking not only Dr. Anthony Fauci, you are attacking science.”

His comments didn’t go over well, based on social media responses.16 Reporter Glenn Greenwald’s Tweet will suffice to summarize the general consensus:17

“Beyond the dangerous arrogance and pomposity of proclaiming ‘anyone who criticizes me is attacking Science’ — thus placing himself off-limits from questioning — he *admitted* he purposely issued false, anti-science, politicized claims … Once you *admit* that you made false statements in violation of The Science™, you don’t then get to equate yourself to The Science™ such that attacks on you are attacks on it.”

Another example is that of Dr. Peter Hotez, one of the most shockingly hateful people in the medical field who has publicly stated he wants to “snuff out” vaccine skeptics and has called for cyberwarfare measures to be deployed against me and others who share vaccine safety information. Coincidentally, this public plea was published in the journal Nature.18

This man, who has spewed all sorts of vile language at parents of vaccine-injured children and called for physical harm and imprisonment of people who don’t agree with the one-size-fits-all vaccine agenda is now complaining about getting bombarded with “anti-vaxx hate speech.”19

Billions of Dollars at Stake

To circle back to the question of why prominent and previously respected science journals are publishing propaganda and suppressing open discussion, the most likely reason — aside from their dependence on Chinese publishing fees and advertising dollars — is the fact that if SARS-CoV-2 is proven to be a manmade virus that escaped from a lab (regardless of its location), billions of dollars in funding for gain-of-function research and even vaccine research could evaporate.

As a publisher of research, it makes sense that journals would be willing to protect the research industry as a whole, and provide a platform for chosen spokespeople — such as Hotez — who shamelessly promote the official narrative, no matter how tenuous or unscientific it might be, or how clear the conflicts of interest.

Here’s another case in point: June 28, 2021, Bloomberg tweeted out a short video featuring Danielle Anderson, an Australian WIV virologist who left Wuhan shortly before the pandemic broke out. Anderson says she “does not believe” the virus is manmade. In response, Hotez tweeted:20

“And we’re in agreement: SARS-2 coronavirus has natural origins, was not produced through GOF [gain-of-function] research, and probably has nothing to do with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

Coincidentally, Anderson is also on The Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission,21 the same Commission that Daszak was on. Her Lancet Commission bio22 says nothing about her work at the WIV, only that she is a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Why is that? Is Anderson’s link to the WIV yet another “random coincidence” that has no bearing on her message? Or is it part of a pattern?

I believe the engineering of viruses and other pathogens is one of the greatest threats to life on earth at this point. We lucked out with SARS-CoV-2, as it turned out to be far less lethal than initially predicted. The next time we might not be so lucky.

As reported in July 2020, China has plans to erect high-security biolabs in all of its 23 provinces, despite concerns about leakage risks.23 Worldwide, there are hundreds of laboratories where this kind of research is taking place on a daily basis. Considering the history of lab leaks, it’s only a matter of time before something truly nasty gets out.

This is why we must get to the bottom of where SARS-CoV-2 came from. We must know if it was manmade because, if so, we need to ban gain-of-function research aimed at making pathogens more dangerous to humans.

Yes, there are harmless gain-of-function experiments, and that’s not what we’re talking about here, although, harmless experiments can, of course, be steps in a process that ultimately results in a dangerous bioweapon. Overall, I think we need to seriously reconsider the need and value of genetic manipulation of viruses and the creation of synthetic ones.

reprinted with permission



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Stomach Pain Can Be a Symptom of Lyme Disease


woman with stomach pain from lyme disease

“Although abdominal pain is generally not considered a sign of LD [Lyme disease], in this case report we describe a patient with unexplained severe abdominal pain that eventually turned out to be LD due to radiculopathy,” explains Stolk from the Haga Teaching Hospital in the Netherlands. [1]

The 71-year-old woman underwent an exhaustive evaluation to determine the cause of her abdominal pain. Tests included: CT scan of the chest and abdomen; whole body emission tomography-CT scan (PET-CT); colonoscopy; gastroscopy, and an MRI of the small intestines. Initially, doctors did not consider testing for Lyme disease as a cause of the patient’s stomach pain.

The woman was admitted to the hospital for pain management and other diagnostic workups.

READ MORE: Lyme disease manifests as abdominal pain in a young child

Approximately 8 weeks prior to her hospitalization, she experienced temporary lower back pain, myalgia, fever, burning sensations and tenderness on her head and upper legs and moderate stomach pain. Several weeks later, her abdominal pain worsened.

“Going over the history again, she emphasized that she had stayed in a high endemic area for ticks and had suffered a possible tick bite without any sign of erythema migrans,” writes Stolk and colleagues.

Lyme disease associated with stomach pain

Serologic testing and a spinal tap were consistent with Neurologic Lyme disease. The spinal tap revealed an elevated IgM antibody to Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), a lymphocytic pleocytosis, markedly elevated IgM antibody index to Bb, and markedly elevated IgG antibody to Bb.

The authors point out that “Since the incidence of LD is rising it is important to realize that severe abdominal pain could be the first clinical manifestation of early neuroborreliosis.

After a 2-week course of intravenous ceftriaxone to treat Lyme disease, the woman’s symptoms, including stomach pain, resolved completely.

This case demonstrates the importance of re-examining a patient’s history when symptoms cannot be explained, the authors point out.

“Instead of doing extensive diagnostic tests, it is important to scrutinize the patient’s medical history in the presence of unexplained clinical signs.”

The authors note: Abdominal pain in the presence of facial paralysis has been described in Europe as Bannwarth Syndrome.

Editor’s note: I often see Lyme disease patients in my practice who present with stomach pain severe enough to warrant extensive diagnostic testing before Lyme disease is suspected.

UPDATED: May 28, 2021

Research Consortium Aims to Develop New Drug For Bartonellosis

Research consortium aims to develop new drug for bartonellosis

July 15, 2021

Key infectious disease researchers at Tulane University, Duke University and North Carolina State University will collaborate on an initiative to develop a treatment for bartonelloses, a spectrum of vector-borne diseases that can cause debilitating symptoms.

The three-year, $4.8 million initiative funded by The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, will establish the Bartonella Research Consortium to develop a novel treatment for bartonelloses.

Bartonella are zoonotic, stealth bacterial pathogens that were not known to infect animals or humans prior to the HIV epidemic when immunocompromised patients began showing symptoms of bartonelloses.

Bartonelloses are often self-limiting diseases that can be cleared by the immune systems of healthy individuals. In immunocompromised individuals or as co-infections, they can cause severe neuropsychiatric, cardiovascular, and rheumatological symptoms. Cats and fleas often harbor the pathogen, which increases the likelihood of transmission to humans.

The principal investigators of the consortium support a collaborative approach to the study of complex, poorly understood infectious diseases. By working together to prevent and treat Bartonella infections, they will provide patient-relevant solutions that improve both animal and human health. Targeted antimicrobial strategies to eliminate long-standing Bartonella infections will dramatically improve patient outcomes.

Similarities between Bartonella and Lyme infections

Bartonella symptoms overlap with those of other vector borne organisms such as Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. In some instances, patients have been infected with both Bartonella and Borrelia burgdorferi infections, which can cause an exacerbation of symptoms

As often seen in Lyme disease patients, a subset of people with bartonelloses develop chronic symptoms despite prior antibiotic therapy. Treatment failures have been documented with both infections, thus the need for drugs that specifically target and eliminate these bacteria.

Associate Professor Monica Embers, a microbiologist and immunologist at the Tulane National Primate Research Center, focuses on the persistence of tick-borne infectious disease despite antibiotic therapy and will bring her expertise to the consortium.

“There are a lot of similarities between Bartonella and Borrelia infections, both of which are notoriously difficult to detect and treat. Developing targeted treatments has the potential to alleviate a lot of suffering, both in the human and pet populations,” said Embers.

There are over 40 known Bartonella species or subspecies and at least 17 have been associated with a spectrum of disease symptoms. Although Bartonella remain neglected in human and veterinary medicine, more recent evidence supports an important role for these bacteria in a variety of diseases.

Funding for this research initiative combines the strengths of research laboratories located at Duke University, North Carolina State University and Tulane University.

Principal investigators include Drs. Edward B. Breitschwerdt, Monica E. Embers, Timothy A Haystead and Ricardo G. Maggi. During the next three and a half years, these established investigators and their highly skilled research teams will develop a novel drug for the treatment of bartonelloses.



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