Archive for the ‘Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever’ Category

TBD Serochip Will Identify Six Tick Borne Pathogens


First Multiplex Test for Tick-Borne Diseases


A new blood test called the Tick-Borne Disease Serochip (TBD Serochip) promises to revolutionize the diagnosis of tick-borne disease by offering a single test to identify and distinguish between Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen responsible for Lyme disease, and seven other tick-borne pathogens. Led by scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the research team reports details on the new test in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

The researchers—who also include scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Roche Sequencing Solutions, Farmingdale State College, and Stony Brook University—sought to improve on existing tests for tick-borne diseases (TBDs), which have limited diagnostic accuracy and cannot test for more than one infection simultaneously. Currently, diagnosis of Lyme disease, the most common TBD, requires two separate tests. This cumbersome approach also relies on subjective criteria for the interpretation of results, and accurately identifies fewer than 40 percent of patients with early disease and results in false positives 28 percent of the time. The accuracy of the method used to diagnose TBDs Babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and Rickettsia varies widely among testing laboratories. And for other tick-borne agents, specific blood tests are not yet available, or in the case of the potentially deadly Powassan virus or Heartland virus, are only performed in specialized laboratories.

“The number of Americans diagnosed with tick-borne disease is steadily increasing as tick populations have expanded geographically,” says Rafal Tokarz, PhD. “Each year, approximately 3 million clinical specimens are tested for TBDs in the U.S. Nonetheless, the true incidence of TBDs is likely greatly underestimated, as patients with presumed TBDs are rarely tested for the full range of tick-borne agents, and only a fraction of positive cases are properly reported,” adds Nischay Mishra, PhD. Co-lead authors Tokarz and Mishra are associate research scientists in the Center for Infection and Immunity.

The TBD Serochip can simultaneously test for the presence of antibodies in blood to more than 170,000 individual protein fragments. Version 1.0 can identify exposure to eight tick-borne pathogens present in the U.S., including Anaplasma phagocytophilum (agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis), Babesia microti (babesiosis), Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease), Borrelia miyamotoi, Ehrlichia chaffeensis (human monocytic ehrlichiosis), Rickettsia rickettsii (Rocky Mountain spotted fever), Heartland virus and Powassan virus. The researchers also included Long Island tick rhabdovirus, a novel virus they recently discovered in Amblyomma americanum ticks. As new tick-borne infectious agents are discovered, the TBD-Serochip will be modified to target them—a process the researchers say can be done in less than four weeks.

The TBD Serochip is also able to identify whether an individual is infected with more than one tick-borne pathogen. Individual ticks are frequently infected with more than one agent; Ixodes scapularis ticks alone can transmit at least five human pathogens. Evidence of exposure to other tick-borne pathogens in patients with Lyme disease has been well documented. In the new paper, the researchers report finding antibodies to another agent in 26 percent of blood specimens from patients with TBD.

In addition to its utility as a diagnostic platform, the TBD Serochip also provides a powerful research tool for studies of TBDs. The technology can be employed to discriminate individual antibody responses in patients with TBD and thus examine the interplay of TBD agents on disease manifestation and progression. It can also be used to assess the impact of genetic diversity of tick-borne pathogens on the host immune response.

“Diagnosing tick-borne illness is a difficult journey for patients, delaying effecting treatment,” says senior author W. Ian Lipkin, MD, director of CII and John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “The TBD Serochip promises to make diagnosis far easier, offering a single, accurate test for eight different TBDs. Early detection of infection enables rapid and appropriate treatment.”

Co-authors include Thomas Briese, Teresa Tagliafierro, Stephen Sameroff, Adrian Caciula, Lokendrasingh Chauhan, of CII; Jigar Patel and Eric Sullivan of Roche Sequencing Solutions, Madison, WI; Azad Gucwa of Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, NY; Brian Fallon of Columbia University; Marc Golightly of Stony Brook University; Claudia Molins and Martin Schriefer of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Adriana Marques of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

This study was funded through grants from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation and the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (AI109761). The content of study does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government. CII has filed an invention report and provisional patent application for the technology.

Bb in Small Kentucky Mammals

Borrelia burgdorferi in small mammal reservoirs in Kentucky, a traditionally non-endemic state for Lyme disease

Buchholz MJ, Davis C, Rowland NS, Dick CW.
Parasitology Research, online first 2018 Feb 7.


The incidence of tick-borne zoonoses such as Lyme disease has steadily increased in the southeastern United States. Southeastern states accounted for 1500 of over 28,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease reported in the United States during 2015. Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of Lyme disease, is maintained in small mammal reservoirs and vectored to new hosts by ixodid ticks.

This study examined ecological relationships of the B. burgdorferi/vector/reservoir system in order to understand the dynamics of Lyme disease risk in Kentucky. Small mammals were captured using live traps from November 2014 to October 2015. Ticks were removed and blood and tissue collected from small mammals were screened for B. burgdorferi DNA by PCR with primers specific to the OspA gene.

Prevalence of B. burgdorferi (21.8%) in Kentucky small mammals was comparable to the lowest recorded prevalence in regions where Lyme disease is endemic. Moreover, infestation of small mammals by Ixodes scapularis, the primary vector of B. burgdorferi, was rare, while Dermacentor variabilis comprised the majority of ticks collected.

These findings provide ecological insight into the relative paucity of Lyme disease in Kentucky.



The conclusion of this study is all wrong.  Bb was found Kentucky mammals.  That in itself is important.  Also, the fact the preponderance of ticks were dermacentor variabilis (wood tick or American dog tick) which supposedly has not been proven to be a competent vector of Bb as supposedly it doesn’t efficiently pass Bb from inside the tick to humans or other hosts), it does transmit Tularemia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

BTW:  these transmission studies given as references for this fact were done from 1997-2006.  It’s now 2018.  Notice it states, “It doesn’t efficiently pass Bb.”  What if it passes it inefficiently?  It still passes!

Regardless of whether the wood tick can transmit Bb or not, they do transmit pathogens.  The fact that nearly 22% of small Kentucky mammals have Bb due to the black legged deer tick and most of the ticks they picked up were wood ticks, those deer ticks were particularly infected.

Hear ye, hear ye, the South has Lyme.

For more:  According to Dr. Naveen Patil, Director of the Infectious Disease Program, ADH,

We don’t have Lyme Disease in Arkansas, we have the ticks that transmit Lyme Disease but we don’t have any recorded cases of Lyme Disease.”  A news report emphasizing the CDC’s belief Arkansas is a “low incident” state in regards to Lyme Disease, is countered by the Arkansas Lyme Foundation that claims at least 150 cases, and they just started counting. (Video here)

People are dying and I’m not exaggerating, people are calling us every week in desperate situations,” said Sikes.  Last summer, a friend who lives in Oklahoma found a classic bullseye rash on her seven-year-old daughter.

“That’s a spider bite,” a local pediatrician told her. “We don’t have Lyme in Oklahoma.”

The doctor was wrong. Had my friend taken his advice, her daughter would not have been diagnosed in a timely fashion and she would likely have developed symptoms over the next few months or years. She probably would have become severely debilitated, and the infections might have crossed the blood-brain barrier and become chronic.

Get the picture yet?  Lyme/MSIDS is everywhere.

Quit saying it’s rare!

No Lyme in Oklahoma – Yeah Right

by Jennifer Crystal


Last summer, a friend who lives in Oklahoma found a classic bullseye rash on her seven-year-old daughter.

“That’s a spider bite,” a local pediatrician told her. “We don’t have Lyme in Oklahoma.”

The doctor was wrong. Had my friend taken his advice, her daughter would not have been diagnosed in a timely fashion and she would likely have developed symptoms over the next few months or years. She probably would have become severely debilitated, and the infections might have crossed the blood-brain barrier and become chronic.

In other words, the little girl could have wound up like me. For as it turns out, she did not have a spider bite. She had Lyme disease and two co-infectionsBabesia and Bartonella.

Now she’s a healthy, happy second grader because a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) was brought in who accurately saw the bullseye rash for what it was. Another pediatrician ordered special tests, and started the child on proper medication for all three infections. Because they were caught early, those infections have now cleared up.

This little girl was lucky, but that’s because her mother was informed about Lyme and knew to persist beyond the “spider bite” diagnosis. But what about all those children whose parents and pediatricians aren’t Lyme literate? Especially those who live outside the so-called endemic areas?

I don’t believe the Oklahoma pediatrician meant harm with his inaccurate diagnosis. His lack of awareness stemmed from a common myth that Lyme only exists in New England, and specifically in the woods. I’ve had people in Massachusetts say to me,

“Oh Lyme—that’s the thing you get when you’re hiking, right?”

Yes and no. Ticks live not only in the woods but also in long grasses, gardens, woodpiles, leaf litter and on lawns. They love any moist, shady area. They feed not just on deer—another common myth—but also on mice, chipmunks, shrews, birds, and other small mammals. Therefore, they travel a lot. People travel, too. Someone from South Carolina might take a vacation in Maine, get bitten by a tick, and later be told by their doctor, “It can’t be Lyme. We don’t have it in the South.” In fact, cases of Lyme disease have been documented across the United States, and throughout the world.

New research published in the Journal of Medical Entomology shows that infected ticks are now in half the counties across the country, a number that has almost doubled since a similar survey was done in 1998. The study notes that over the past two decades, the black-legged tick

“has expanded from its northeastern focus northward into upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and northern Maine; westward across Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and New York; and south—and southwestward into West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.” The study also notes a similar geographic expansion in the North-Central states. “The two previously distinct foci in the Northeast and North-Central states appear to be merging in the Ohio River Valley to form a single contiguous focus.”[1]

Ticks are spreading across the country, bringing not just Lyme but co-infections. These require different treatment and can complicate recovery.

Had my friend’s daughter only been treated for Lyme and not for Babesia and Bartonella, she would still be sick.

Some of these co-infections are specific to states that are nowhere near New England. Bourbon virus, a rare but potentially deadly illness, has been reported in Kansas and Oklahoma. The Heartland virus, spread through the bite of an infected Lone Star tick, has been found in Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Also transmitted by the Lone Star tick is Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI), while dog ticks and Rocky Mountain wood ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Tick borne illnesses are rampant not just in New England, not just deep in the woods, but all across the country and world. As the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society states on its website,

“ticks know no borders and respect no boundaries.”[2]

No matter where you live, if you have symptoms of Lyme and/or co-infections, it’s critical to see an LLMD. If you still have the tick, you can also get that tested. Follow the smart lead of my friend in Oklahoma, so you don’t wind up like me.


Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. She is working on a memoir about her journey with chronic tick-borne illness. Contact her at

[1] Rebecca J. Eisen, Lars Eisen, Charles B. Beard; County-Scale Distribution of Ixodes scapularisand Ixodes pacificus (Acari: Ixodidae) in the Continental United States , Journal of Medical Entomology, Volume 53, Issue 2, 1 March 2016, Pages 349–386,




Lyme/MSIDS is everywhere.  Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.  The entomology maps of tick locations have been used for decades keeping patients undiagnosed and untreated.  For a great article on how the Spielman maps have been an iron curtain keeping patients from getting tested:  (scroll to page 6 & 7 for details) (Southern patients are STILL told there is no Lyme in the South.)  This article is a perfect example of why all things related to Lyme/MSIDS has hardly budged in over 40 years.

As to testing, the current CDC two-tiered testing misses over half of all cases.  The “special” tests Ms. Crystal mentions are more sensitive but are not supported by main stream medicine for reasons I won’t delve into here (essentially governmental collusion, patents, power and money – read article about the CDC needing a good dictionary above).  

Great testing info here: and here,

Lyme literate doctors (LLMD’s) use the more sensitive testing but also diagnose patients clinically as some NEVER test positive.  This is important to know.  Here is a common checklist you can print out and complete on your own.              If you have a preponderance of symptoms – think TBI’s (tick borne illness); however, there is a caveat – some people present differently and don’t fit the classic mold.  For instance, for some, the only significant symptom is psychiatric:, didn’t have the normally thought of symptoms – just horrible anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. Her doctor knows Lyme is the great imitator and suspected it despite a negative test. She tested positive for Ehrlichia, which implies contact with a tick. Due to the Lyme/MSIDS diagnosis Kyra went from blaming herself to understanding she now had something she could fight. After doxycycline they chose IV Rocephin – and Kyra became herself again. “The feeling of actually starting to recognize pieces of what I was before was such an amazing feeling.”

And don’t ever forget the probable involvement of coinfections which will significant complicate everything:



Mom Got Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever While Picking Pumpkins

Mom shares horrifying photo of legs after trip to pumpkin patch

Alex Lasker,
 pumpkin patch

A California mother is speaking out to remind autumn revelers across the country of a common danger that may be lurking in pumpkin patches.

Jennifer Velasquez, who lives in San Diego, took to Facebook on October 13 to share a horrifying photo of her leg taken in 2015 after she was bitten by a tick while visiting a pumpkin patch with her family.

“After seeing all the cute pictures of families at the pumpkin patches, this is a reminder for everyone,” she wrote. “When you go to these pumpkin patches and petting zoos and all those fun fall activities, wear pants, long socks and shoes!”

“Make sure you check for tics! This was me 2 years ago after being bit by a tick and contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever at a pumpkin patch,” she continued. “I Couldn’t walk, my whole body was in pain, my hair fell out, and I almost died.”

Although Velasquez’s injury happened two years ago, experts have warned that 2017 would be one of the worst tick seasons in years due to a boom in the mouse population and last year’s warm winter — and it isn’t even over yet.

While tick season normally peaks from April through September, this year’s unusually warm fall weather may result in heightened tick activity throughout the upcoming months.

Hopefully, Velasquez’s warning, which has been shared over 10,000 times, can serve as a reminder that ticks don’t stop biting when summer ends.

“I’m still healing from all this,” she wrote. “Don’t be dumb and wear flip flops like me. CHECK FOR TICKS!”

RELATED: Learn how to prevent tick bites: