Archive for the ‘Ticks’ Category
Lyme Disease Cases Are Exploding. And It’s Only Going to Get Worse.
Climate change and human sprawl have triggered a pandemic
By Alex Bhattacharji
“Look there’s a nymph,” says Oggenfuss. “And I’ve got one, two, three larvae. Can you see them?” She pulls a patch of the mouse’s fur back to reveal a blacklegged tick no bigger than a poppy seed burrowed into its head. The larvae are barely perceptible.
A researcher named Agi holds up another mouse. “Look,” she announces. “That’s a larva on top of that nymph. We have a co-feeding situation here.” The theory is that their feeding sites are so close that pathogens move between them easily, Oggenfuss explains. The potential result is one tick sharing infectious material directly with another through the host mouse as if it were a straw, speeding the spread of disease. “That could have an effect on infection prevalence,” Oggenfuss adds. “It’s one of the things we’re studying.”
Since 1992, the Cary Institute has been compiling a record of tick ecology that they believe to be the longest continuous study of this kind in the U.S. and possibly the world. Mostly its researchers encounter the blacklegged, or deer, tick (Ixodes scapularis), but in recent years, they’ve also been seeing increasing numbers of lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum), which are native to the American Southeast but now range from northern Mexico to Canada. Over the years, an alarming number of ticks in the surrounding area have been revealed to carry Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, while others have tested positive for the pathogens that cause other tick-borne illnesses, including the potentially fatal Powassan virus.
Because ticks acquire pathogens from hosts, understanding tick-borne diseases means understanding ticks’ so-called disease reservoir, especially mice. If the urban rat was the primary carrier of bubonic plague, the country mouse is it for Lyme disease. And just as the fleas that fed on infected rats spread the plague, ticks that feed on infected mice transmit Lyme.
On this early May morning, the team’s trap yield is relatively modest — four mice, two squirrels, and a chipmunk. “It’s early days still,” says Oggenfuss. In August, during the so-called larval peak, the researchers sometimes catch as many as 220 mice and can find 150 or even 200 tick larvae crawling on a single mouse. It can be an unnerving moment. “When the ticks are looking for a feeding site,” Oggenfuss says, “the mouse fur just seems to move on its own.”
The process for counting ticks not affixed to hosts is called a drag — the researchers pull a one-square-meter sheet of fabric along the ground for 30 meters then tally the number of ticks affixed to it. Oggenfuss holds the Cary Institute record for ticks collected in a single drag: 1,700. As horrifying as that haul was — and it would, by extrapolation, put the tick population on the Cary Institute’s 2,000-acre campus at 2 billion — Oggenfuss is quick to note it was exceptional, and tick density is irregular. Her more conservative calculations of average tick populations, based on drags done during the same time of year (August, the larval peak), are only reassuring by comparison: upward of 20,000 ticks per acre, more than 100,000 on the Henry Control grid, and more than 40 million on the Cary Institute grounds.
The scary thing is, that’s nothing. Experts say the worldwide tick population is exploding, triggering a dramatic spike in the incidence of Lyme disease and a rise in other tick-borne illnesses, some of which, like Powassan, are far more dangerous than Lyme.
First identified in 1975 in the leafy New England town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, Lyme disease has now reached what experts consider pandemic proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. has more than doubled in the two decades leading up to 2017 (the most recent year for which final figures are available) and increased 17% from 2016 to 2017 alone. More than half the counties in the U.S. are considered high-risk areas for Lyme, according to the CDC, and in some areas, as many as six out of 10 ticks carry the infection.
“It’s been a relentless expansion since the 1980s,” says John Aucott, director of the Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “There may be down years and up years, but the trends are in place, and there’s no indication that they’re going to reverse.”
We now live in a frightening new normal: It’s estimated that 300,000 people contract Lyme every year in the U.S., with victims found not just in traditionally tick-heavy areas like upstate New York and Maine, but also in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. While most people are cured quickly with antibiotics, some go on to experience lingering symptoms characteristic of Lyme, like headaches, fatigue, and joint and muscle pain, for months or longer after they’ve been treated, a condition known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). According to a recent study led by experts at the Brown University School of Public Health, the number of people in the U.S. with PTLDS was estimated to be 1.5 million in 2016 and is predicted to rise to nearly 2 million by 2020.
“There is little doubt that [Lyme disease] is pandemic. It calls for a huge national and concerted international effort to bring it under control.”
Tick populations now exist on every continent, even Antarctica, and Lyme disease can be found throughout most of Europe, where it ranks as the most common vector-borne disease, and beyond. “To me, there is little doubt that it is pandemic,” says Mary Beth Pfeiffer, author of Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change. “It’s in China, Russia, Japan, Australia. It’s moving fast into Canada. It is all across the U.S. It calls for a huge national and concerted international effort to bring it under control.”
The incidence of other tick-borne illnesses is also sharply rising. According to the CDC, the occurrence of those diseases in the U.S. has nearly tripled since 2004 and increased more than 22% from 2016 to 2017. In addition to Lyme, ticks transmit a slew of pathogens, including those that cause babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, southern tick-associated rash illness, tick-borne relapsing fever, tularemia, Colorado tick fever, Q fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Powassan encephalitis. Most of the bacterial diseases are treatable if diagnosed early. Others, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, are potentially fatal, particularly in children, if not treated quickly. Incidences of spotted fever rickettsiosis, which includes Rocky Mountain spotted fever, increased more than 12-fold from 2000 to 2017 (up from 495 to 6,248). And while more rare still, cases of Powassan virus, which can kill one in 10 people who are infected and for which there is no treatment, are rising as well. In 2008, only two cases were reported. In 2016, that number jumped to 22 and again in 2017 to 33.
“Ticks account for more diseases than all other biting insects and arthropods in the United States,” says Ben Beard, deputy director for the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at the CDC. “It’s hard to know what the maximum or the ceiling might be. All we can say is that the number of cases is growing every year.”
Alarms are going off all over the globe. South Africa, where tick-bite fever (a form of rickettsias) is common, has seen an increase in incidences of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), which is deadly in 30% to 40% of cases. The tick that carries CCHF, a native of sub-Saharan Africa and eastern Europe, has been found in Spain, Portugal, Germany, and the United Kingdom, where it is believed to have been brought from Africa by migratory birds. Bites from the lone star tick have been shown to cause alpha-gal syndrome, which manifests in rapid-onset allergies to meat, typically beef and pork, that can result in unexplained anaphylactic reactions. There is no treatment, other than eschewing the consumption of red meat.
In North America, news reports in Maine and southern Canada this spring featured a shocking number of sightings of what are called ghost moose — skeletal-looking, malnourished, denuded animals that have rubbed off their fur in response to tick irritation after hosting up to 75,000 feeding ticks through the winter. Many emerged anemic after being the source of so many blood meals, and a number of calves died after losing too much blood to ticks — a vampire-like end to life known as exsanguination.
If Lyme disease has reached pandemic proportions, why haven’t we heard more about it? Because, experts say, Lyme doesn’t strike fear into people’s hearts the way some other illnesses, like Ebola or Zika, do. People respond to dramatic pictures or dramatic mortality, says Aucott.
“It’s hard for them to have a perspective on the real impact of Lyme disease because it doesn’t cause visible changes. People with Lyme disease don’t look sick.”
PART TWO: Fighting Lyme Disease
Part One: Fighting Lyme Disease
HERMON, Maine (WABI) – “For me, the month of May is awareness month and I will fight to my death to get awareness.”
Every day last month Regina Leonard posted something on Facebook about Lyme Disease.
“To get people to acknowledge it.”
She knows first hand the havoc the tick-borne illness can cause someone.
“It was three years ago in the fall that I got a call from the teachers that Cooper was not feeling well and he had this random rash all over his body.”
“I immediately noticed that he had a rash on his face and he had raccoon eyes and it was all red and blotchy,” said Erica Hake, a teacher at Hermon Elementary School.
Cooper was six at the time. His teachers at Hermon Elementary School contacted Regina when they saw the rash and knew something wasn’t right.
“My heart sank. I was just really worried about Cooper,” said Hake.
“The fact that they caught it and called me meant the world.”
Regina immediately took Cooper to walk-in care.
“We literally saw the rash spread before our eyes at the doctor’s office. Within eight hours my kid couldn’t walk on his own. His hands were curled in like a paraplegic. He stuttered when he spoke. He just screamed and cried in pain and for the next two and a half weeks it was like that. I was really scared. There was a moment I really thought my kid was going to die,” said Regina.
“I remember things like waking up in the middle of the night and feeling sick and I remember when I first got it, throwing up in the trash can,” said Cooper.
One of the most alarming factors is the Leonards never saw a tick on Cooper.
“Never, ever did I think it was a tick. I didn’t find a tick on him. I do tick checks. I thought I was being thorough.”
It’s been a hard road for Cooper. They were only given two weeks worth of antibiotics. Regina says when their doctor said Coop was cured three years ago and they were still dealing with symptoms, they turned to a doctor in New Hampshire friends of theirs had success with.
“He’s a homeopathic but he works in an integrated health facility combined with holistic therapy in order to treat this. I left there completely in tears because I felt like we had answers, I was listened to and that he was going to get some help.”
“I think it’s just quite devastating and quite unbelievable in this day in age that we don’t have a better handle on this,” said Constance “Happy” Dickey.
Happy Dickey is an RN and a past president of the non-profit, MaineLyme. She’s also had to pay out of pocket for her own Lyme Disease treatment.
“The treatment is treat the patient. If the patient is getting better continue treatment if the patient isn’t responding change it up and do something else.”
Happy, along with the other members of Maine Lyme, began working to educate others about Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses in 2010. She says while more and more people are becoming aware of the damage ticks can do, many are still not taking critical precautions at a time when the tick population is growing in Maine.
“This is an epidemic. And we need to prevent people, help people prevent illness and we’re just not doing it. I shouldn’t have to do this. This should be coming from the CDC. This should be part of the doctor’s tool box and it’s not. It’s pretty devastating.”
For Regina, she says when she found out her dog, Lionel had Lyme it was easier to treat and cure him than her son. Now, she says they’re hoping for a break from the medications and from the bills.
“Not only for Cooper to get a break but for the wallet because it’s been really expensive to pay for this out of pocket.”
She says it was worth every penny but hopes their story will possibly prevent other families from going down the same road.
“I’d like to gather every single tick and then cover the bucket in gasoline, light it on fire then put some dynamite next to it,” said Cooper.
Thank God for astute teachers!
“Happy” Dicky’s statement is too logical for mainstream medicine:
“The treatment is treat the patient. If the patient is getting better continue treatment if the patient isn’t responding change it up and do something else.”
You know things are bad when your dog gets better treatment than you do…
Emerging Babesia sp. Similar to Babesia Motasi in 1st Human Case & Ticks in Korea (Asian Long-horned & Haemaphysalis Flava)
Detection and characterization of an emerging type of Babesia sp. similar to Babesia motasi for the first case of human babesiosis and ticks in Korea.
Babesiosis is a tick-transmitted intraerythrocytic zoonosis. In Korea, the first mortalities were reported in 2005 due to Babesia sp. detection in sheep; herein we report epidemiological and genetic characteristics of a second case of babesiosis. Microscopic analysis of patient blood revealed polymorphic merozoites. To detect Babesia spp., PCR was performed using Babesia specific primers for β-tubulin, 18S rDNA, COB, and COX3 gene fragments. 18S rDNA analysis for Babesia sp., showed 98% homology with ovine Babesia sp. and with Babesia infections in Korea in 2005. Moreover, phylogenetic analysis of 18S rDNA, COB, and COX3 revealed close associations with B. motasi. For identifying the infectious agent, Haemaphysalis longicornis (296) and Haemaphysalis flava (301) were collected around the previous residence of the babesiosis patient. Babesia genes were identified in three H. longicornis: one sample was identified as B. microti and two samples were 98% homologous to B. motasi.
Our study is the first direct confirmation of the infectious agent for human babesiosis. This case most likely resulted from tick bites from ticks near the patient house of the babesiosis patient. H. longicornis has been implicated as a vector of B. microti and other Babesia sp. infections.
Everyone’s been waiting with bated breath on what the Asian Long-horned tick is transmitting. We know it’s transmitting numerous pathogens in Asia but has yet to be found to transmit pathogens here in the U.S., although the tick itself is spreading geographically like wildfire. This is the tick that clones itself and drains cattle of its blood. https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/03/12/asian-tick-found-in-new-jersey-can-kill-cattle-by-draining-them-of-blood/
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/vbz.2018.2298 This article shows the ticks and transmittable diseases in South Korea.
The full-length article tells the unfortunate story of an elderly men’s death 36 hours after hospitalization due to an emerging type of Babesia due to a tick bite.
A blood sample was obtained from the jugular vein in the patient that presented with dizziness and general weakness.
No microorganisms were isolated from the blood culture.
Microscopy revealed the following:
Upon light microscopic examination, variable intraerythrocytic parasites as ring forms, pear-shaped forms, paired pyriforms, pleomorphic ring forms, and multiple-infected parasites and clusters of extracellular rings were detected in Giemsa-stained blood smears. The percentage of parasitaemia was 1.8% (Figure 1). Maltese cross forms comprising four masses in an erythrocyte that are often described as a characteristic of B. microti infection were not detected in most blood smears (Figure 1).
Please note that the patient would have failed a simple blood test and even microscopy revealed atypical findings as well as the fact parasitemia was less than 2%.
Yet, 2% was enough to kill a man.
Tick collections were performed by dividing the area around the patient’s residence and the findings were:
A total of 597 ticks were collected around the patient’s residence, including 296 H. longicornis (186 adult, 41 nymphs, and 68 larvae) and 301 Haemaphysalis flava (1 adult and 300 larvae) (Table 2). Among these, 94% of the ticks were collected in both the front yard of patient’s residence (442 ticks) and associated hill III (124 ticks). Based on the results of the amplification of Babesia genes in each tick, 2 (0.3%) were positive for 18S rDNA of Babesia species, 1 (0.2%) for COB and COX3, and 1 (0.2%) for β-tubulin gene of B. microti. While the nymph of H. longicornis yielded a positive result for only 18S rDNA, one female tick of H. longicornis yielded positive results for 18S rDNA, COB, and COX3 gene fragments. Also, one female tick of H. longicornis only yielded positive results for β-tubulin gene of B. microti (Table 3).
Please note two things: the high amount of ticks found right in his yard and the low incidence of infected ticks – yet, it only took one to kill him.
The Discussion section reveals some interesting things:
Previously, seven different Babesia spp., B. microti, B. divergens, B. bovis, B. canis, B. duncani, B. venatorium, and a novel Babesia sp. similar to ovine babesias were reported to cause human babesiosis...Human babesiosis (KCDC-1) in 2017 was the second case identified in Korea and the sequence of Babesia sp. was very closely related to that of KO1 and Liaoning, China. These large Babesia are clearly distinct from other agents of human babesiosis based on their shape and phylogeny. These results suggest that the causative agent in their case of babesiosis is a novel large Babesia parasite infecting humans and may be highly fatal….
the identified Babesia parasites (in the patient) might be B. motasi, and this is the first study to detect B. motasi in human babesiosis and H. longicornis in Korea.
For more on Babesia: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2016/01/16/babesia-treatment/
June 17, 2109
‘My life is dominated by Lyme Disease’
One tiny tick under the skin can cause chronic illness but GPs can be slow to diagnose and to give treatment for Lyme Disease.
“Disclosure: Under The Skin” meets sufferers who feel let down by the health service and asks what more can be done to combat this debilitating disease.
The programme was aired on BBC One Scotland on Monday 17 June, 2019.
**Warning – explicit language in each video**
Joe Rogan on the Morgellons & Lyme Disease Connection
“Everyone who has Morgellons also has Lyme disease.”
Rogan explains how a tick is full of pathogens – Lyme is only one of many.
There’s discussion on Bells Palsy and some doctors state to just wait until it goes away. I would caution this approach as this is often a Lyme disease symptom. While symptoms wax and wane with Lyme disease, just because the symptom disappears does not mean you are not still infected systemically. Waxing and waning symptoms is hallmark of Lyme disease. You need to see a Lyme literate doctor who understands these things. (Contact your local support group to find these specially trained doctors) In this article, Dr. Cameron warns against using steroids for facial palsy due to this practice causing refractory disease in Lyme/MSIDS patients: http://danielcameronmd.com/steroid-use-can-lead-long-term-treatment-failure-lyme-disease-patients/
Taken from Joe Rogan Experience #1234 w/David Sinclair
Joe Rogan: “Lyme disease is terrifying”
Joe Rogan Experience podcast #873 with Steven Kotler
Around 5:00 he talks about Morgellons as well.
For More on Morgellons: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/05/19/skin-deep-the-battle-over-morgellons/