Archive for the ‘Transmission’ Category

Droplet Digital PCR Shows 60% Bb Infection Rate in Ticks and Over 50,000 Spirochetes Per Adult Tick

Validation of droplet digital PCR for the detection and absolute quantification of Borrelia DNA in Ixodes scapularis ticks


We evaluated the QX200 Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR™, Bio-Rad) system and protocols for the detection of the tick-borne pathogens Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia miyamotoi in Ixodes scapularis nymphs and adults collected from North Truro, Massachusetts. Preliminary screening by nested PCR determined positive infection levels of 60% for B. burgdorferi in these ticks. To investigate the utility of ddPCR as a screening tool and to calculate the absolute number of bacterial genome copies in an infected tick, we adapted previously reported TaqMan®-based qPCR assays for ddPCR. ddPCR proved to be a reliable means for detection and absolute quantification of control bacterial DNA with precision as low as ten spirochetes in an individual sample. Application of this method revealed the average carriage level of B. burgdorferi in infected I. scapularis nymphs to be 2291 spirochetes per nymph (range: 230–5268 spirochetes) and 51,179 spirochetes on average in infected adults (range: 5647–115,797). No ticks naturally infected with B. miyamotoi were detected. The ddPCR protocols were at least as sensitive to conventional qPCR assays but required fewer overall reactions and are potentially less subject to inhibition. Moreover, the approach can provide insight on carriage levels of parasites within vectors.



While this is a great start, there are many other pathogens to be concerned with besides Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the agent of Lyme Disease:, and there are many more besides the six mentioned in this article.  Bartonella has not been proven conclusively to be transmitted by ticks, but it is highly likely.  It is also a frequent coinfection and can be spread by:

Arthropod vectors including fleas and flea feces, biting flies such as sand flies and horn flies, the human body louse, mosquitoes, and ticks; through bites and scratches of reservoir hosts; and potentially from needles and syringes in the drug addicted. Needle stick transmission to veterinarians has been reported. There is documentation that cats have received it through blood transfusion. 3.2% of blood donors in Brazil were found to carry Bartonella in their blood. Bartonella DNA has been found in dust mites. Those with arthropod exposure have an increased risk, as well as those working and living with pets that have arthropod exposure. 28% of veterinarians tested positively for Bartonella compared with 0% of controls. About half of all cats may be infected with Bartonella – as high as 80% in feral cats and near 40% of domestic cats. In various studies dogs have close to a 50% rate as well. Evidence now suggests it may be transmitted congenitally from mother to child – potentially leading to birth defects.

There is much work yet to be done.






Premature Infants Develop Babesia Via Blood Transfusion

A Cluster of Cases of Babesia Microti Among Neonates Traced to a Single Unit of Donor Blood


Three premature infants in one neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) developed transfusion-transmitted babesiosis. Two of the infants developed high-grade parasitemia. All three affected infants were treated and cured with azithromycin and atovaquone. No infant required exchange transfusion. Clinicians should be cognizant that babesiosis may be acquired via blood transfusion.


Babesia is finally getting the press it deserves.  Lately there has been much on transmission by transfusion as well as deaths in patients without spleens.   “Asymptomatic individuals with Babesia infection are able to donate blood in the United States because of the lack of specific blood donation testing. Blood products collected in Babesia-endemic areas are distributed nationally; thus, clinicians in nonendemic states may fail to include babesiosis in the differential diagnosis of a patient who had a recent transfusion history and a fever of unknown origin.” Babesia spread congenitally  Death in patient without spleen   Blood-donation screening for antibodies to and DNA from B. microti was associated with a decrease in the risk of transfusion-transmitted babesiosis.  Dr. Horowitz, a nationally recognized LLMD, states Babesia is one of the most tenacious coinfections he sees in his patients and that treatment often takes 9 months to a year, particularly with those also infected with Lyme disease (borrelia).  Treatment options in this link.  When left untreated, silent babesial infection may persist for months or even years. Although treatment with clindamycin and quinine reduces the duration of parasitemia, infection may still persist and recrudesce and side effects are common. Improved treatments are needed.

Dr. Krause published in the New England Journal of Medicine that when a patient has Lyme and Babesia, Lyme is found three-times more frequently in the blood, proving Babesia suppresses the immune system.   Dr. Horowitz warns that due to this immune suppression, patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus and are on immunosuppressant drugs, if they have Babesia, could get much worse. The strain, B. divergens, causes a higher mortality rate and more severe symptoms, and if left untreated, this strain can develop into shock-like symptoms with pulmonary edema and renal failure.


Man Dies of Babesia“>  (video here)  By Ali Gorman, R.N.  

Husband dies of disease caused by deer tick in Bucks County

 A Bucks County woman is sharing the story of how she lost her husband to a disease she’d never heard of, and is spread by ticks.

Crissy Naticchia is still in shock. Her fun-loving husband Jeff died nearly two months ago from an infection spread by a tiny deer tick.

“It’s going to be a long, hard road ahead. I mean we had so much to do. He was only 50,” she said.

In late July, Jeff came down with a fever, sweating and fatigue. At the hospital, Crissy says it took several days for doctors to make the diagnosis. It was Babesiosis.

Doctor Neil Fishman with Penn Medicine didn’t treat Jeff, but he specializes in infectious diseases.

He says Babesiosis is transmitted by the same tick as Lyme disease.

Many people infected won’t have symptoms, but for others they will.

“The problem is the disease can get very severe if people don’t have a normal immune system,” Dr. Fishman said.

That includes people on chemotherapy, transplant recipients, elderly and anyone without a spleen.

Crissy says Jeff had his spleen removed as a child, but it never caused any problems.

“In 26 years, he’d been sick maybe twice,” she said.

Now she and their children Nicole and Max are hoping to raise awareness about Babesiosis.

It’s considered reportable, and tracked by many state health departments including, New Jersey and Delaware, but not Pennsylvania.

Doctor Fishman says it’s relatively rare in the state, but could be emerging.

“As you said we are seeing more and more Lyme disease in certain parts of the state, so we may start to see an increase in babesiosis,” he said.

Crissy added, “We live in Bucks County, across from a state park, there’s ticks everywhere. I want people to know, it’s not just Lyme. There’s other horrible diseases that are carried by ticks.”

The best prevention is insect repellent with DEET, long pants or sleeves, and to check your body for ticks after you’ve been outside in a park or in the

In the case of Babesiosis, if ticks are removed within 24 hours, they can’t transmit the disease. However, there are other tick-borne illnesses that can be spread faster. (Please read comment at end of article)

It’s always a good idea to consult with your physician if you have any concerns.


A couple of things:  the lack of a spleen was this man’s undoing.Risk factors for severe disease include:

Do not have a spleen (up to 20% mortality)
Weak immune system (AIDS, corticosteroid therapy, malignancy with therapy, multiple stealth microbe infections at one time)
Elderly (>50 years old, especially with health problems)

As to removing a tick within 24 hours not transmitting Babesia – well that’s a crock of hooey.  Show me the studies and I will find a hundred people who defy them.
The claims that removal of ticks within 24 hours or 48 hours of attachment will effectively prevent LB are not supported by the published data, and the minimum tick attachment time for transmission of LB in humans has never been established.
Additionally ticks carry many other diseases including tick-borne encephalitis, human granular ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, bartonellosis, and others. The attachment times for transmission of many of these are unknown, though there is evidence that some are transmitted very quickly.
The challenge with these studies, and there are many, is that most placed multiple ticks on multiple rodents. Multiple ticks may be transmitting different pathogens. It has also been shown that ticks feeding on mice coinfected with B. microti and B. burgdorferi were twice as likely to become infected with Bb compared to B. microti, suggesting that coinfection can amplify certain pathogens – which is another reason to only use one rodent and one pathogen to separate out multiplying factors that muddy the waters. Also, rarely do studies record the titer of both tick and host – again, making it nearly impossible to determine what’s what. It was also noted that transmission times are unknown for many pathogens.
**And as always: if you are the ONE person who contracted Lyme Disease in 10 minutes, all these numbers are essentially meaningless. The frightening truth is that these numbers, along with geographical information regarding tick habitats, are often used against patients. It is beyond time for doctors to listen, educate themselves, and treat patients with the respect they deserve – not to mention it’s time for them to treat patients clinically and not based on tests that are wrong over half the time and with the knowledge that ticks are spreading everywhere and bringing the pathogens with them. (In other words, throw the maps away!)
The review essentially gives the following transmission times for various pathogens. Again, please know these numbers are not definitive and many, many cases have proven this fact.
Take each and every tick bite seriously and don’t mess around and take a “wait and see approach.” There is too much at stake.
 There is so much we don’t know for certain and peoples’ lives are at stake.  To claim to be all knowing would be foolish.  Far better to plainly state, “Ticks are nature’s dirty needles.  The quicker you properly get that sucker off the better, as there is much we don’t know about transmission times!”  

Night at the Blood Sucking Creature Museum

A museum of blood-sucking nightmares: the US National Tick Collection

Posted: Sep 15, 2017 9:18 AM CDT

Susan Scutti, CNN –


To get to the US National Tick Collection, visitors to the campus of Georgia Southern University must descend into the bowels of the Math/Physics Building, where sunlight is absent and locked doors with unpronounceable signs prohibit entry.

Curator Dr. Lorenza Beati, a smiling woman in wire-rimmed glasses and blue jeans, a woman who radiates the same vibe as a kindly, eccentric aunt, welcomes anyone who has daring enough spirit.

Inside the collection, an elaborate camera for shooting closeups of ticks has made its home in a cramped room. It has a strobe-light effect to capture precise images of individual ticks splayed on white backgrounds, and as she operates the camera, Beati’s palce face appears in shadow and light.

She leads the way to a large abandoned-looking space where retro scientific fume hoods, glass beakers and microscopes reside. A narrow hallway is made even more congested by filing cabinets lining both walls. In turn, they are crammed with dusty files and yellowed correspondence from another century.

The main room of the collection is a brightly lit, cheerful place with coloring books and temporary tick tattoos available for the youngest visitors, and immaculate white-metal cabinets holding countless drawers.

Open the drawers to find bottles upon bottles of tick specimens, an endless variety of small, dark forms permanently suspended within clear liquid — a science-fantasy version of prison or hell, depending on a visitor’s horror movie associations.

A trip through tick world

The national tick collection is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is the world’s largest, by every account. Housed at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro since 1990, the collection contains over a million specimens representing 96% of the world’s 900 recognized tick species, including all those found in the United States.

“We keep our ticks preserved in 90% ethanol,” Beati says, emphasizing the word “we.” When kept in ethanol, specimens can last hundreds of years, she says. Dry ticks pinned like butterflies have been known to last 200 years; these should keep even longer.

The collection’s birthplace was Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana, in 1905. Some of the specimens are historical artifacts — ticks found on presidents’ dogs or on animals shot by Teddy Roosevelt — but it doesn’t take a fancy pedigree to wow Beati.

“To me, the most basic dog tick can be interesting,” says Beati, also an associate professor of biology at Georgia Southern. All ticks are blood-feeders — that’s their only food, she explains. Some will feed on any of the many terrestrial vertebrates, a category that includes birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians. Yet other ticks are finicky eaters, such as the rat snake tick, which feeds only on the blood of that particular serpent.

To most of us, ticks may appear to be just another bug, but this is not the case. Unlike insects with segmented bodies that include distinct heads, thoraxes and abdomens, ticks are more like “a unique bag containing all their organs,” Beati says. “Ticks are not insects; they are arachnids.”

With eight legs, they are closely related to spiders and scorpions. Ticks are also mites, a diverse subclass of arachnids. “Ticks are probably the group of mites best known because they transmit diseases,” Beati says.

In fact, the core of the collection was formed in 1905 when scientists discovered that ticks could transmit illness, she explains.

First reaction of visitors

The ancient Egyptians used large ticks with bright, colorful spots on their backs as inspiration for jewelry, Beati says. African ticks feed on large animals and so become the most decorated and most colorful — in some cases, a pure gold hue — among their species, she explains.

Children from the Statesboro area who make the trek to the collection, shepherded by their teachers, often love the colorful ticks, Beati says. They also like the big ticks, those reaching a size of three-quarters of an inch or more.

” ‘Can ticks explode?’ That’s one of the questions they have, because they see them so big,” Beati says. “No. Ticks cannot explode. They know when to stop.

“Ticks are never a favorite of anyone. Usually the first reaction — it’s always, ‘Bew, what are these things?!’ But when we show them how diverse ticks are, how important they are for public health, they become more interested,” she says.

She herself took to ticks only after learning more about them.

“I’m an M.D., and I started studying parasitology in Switzerland, and the specialty of the laboratory where I was studying parasitology was vectors — so all the attributes that transmit diseases to humans or domestic animals, and in particular, ticks,” Beati, a Swiss native, says. “They were discovering at that time Lyme disease in Europe. So it was a really hot topic.”

From the Institute of Zoology in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, Beati’s interest in ticks led her to the World Health Organization’s Collaborative Center for Rickettsial Diseases and Arthropod-borne Bacterial Diseases in Marseilles, France, and then the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. She was working at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, when the opportunity to curate the tick collection arose.

Beati — whose name means “blessed”In Italian — jumped at the chance. After all, the collection is an active resource that researchers from all corners of the Earth make the trek to see.

“They compare their specimens to ours to decide whether or not they are dealing with already described species or new ones,” Beati explains.

Previously unknown ticks, then, are sometimes identified at the collection by way of these comparisons. Along with taxonomy, scientists and students work on gaining a better understanding of tick biology and tick-borne diseases.

Ticks cause “many, many diseases,” Beati says. “Lyme disease is probably the most popular in the US.” Ixodes scapularis, the deer tick, transmits Lyme.

Another “very important disease” in America is Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is transmitted by Dermacentor variabilis, or the dog tick. This disease has spread farther than its name would suggest, Beati notes: “There were some really deadly cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the Native American reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.”

“Probably the most dangerous disease transmitted by ticks is Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever,” she says, explaining that Hyalomma ticks found in desert areas of Africa and the Middle East transmit it.

Once one person is infected, a tick is no longer required for this illness to be passed from person to person. “You bleed, and it can be deadly,” Beati says, shaking her head sadly. “It’s a bad disease.”

Global citizens

There are different opinions about when ticks first appeared on the planet, with hypotheses ranging from 200 million to 400 million years ago, Beati says. Yet all scientists agree on one thing: Ticks have evolved to adapt to an enormous number of habitats on all continents.

“So you can find them in Antarctica, and you can find them deep in the Sahara desert,” Beati says, adding that their blood habit has led to some unique characteristics.

For example, one family of ticks “can survive without feeding for decades,” she says. “They just go dormant, and their metabolism is very slowed down, but you open the box, you blow on the box, and they start moving around, and they are fine.”

Some of these ticks have been kept alive in the laboratory for over 12 years without any food: blood.

“If you think about ticks, they are parasites, but unlike a mosquito, a tick has to feed for a long time,” Beati said. “It’s not one second and it’s gone.” Instead, a tick has to fight the host’s immune system, and so it has developed a diverse array of molecules, she explains.

“They inject anesthetics so that you don’t feel anything,” Beati says. “They inject anticoagulants so that the blood will keep flowing where they are biting and it doesn’t clog. They inject antihistamines so that you don’t feel the itch when they bite, and they also inject molecules that really fight your immune system, so you are immune-suppressed where they bite you.”

Scientists have begun work synthesizing similar molecules in their labs to use as human medicines, she says. Recent molecular work focuses on the genetic material found in ticks. In fact, tick DNA is a gold mine of information.

“DNA extracted from a tick will contain both the DNA of the tick plus the DNA of the pathogens in the tick, or the DNA of the blood of the animal that was the last host of the tick,” Beati says. “You can basically have the list of every single bacterium that goes on in a tick. In one tick, you can find hundreds and hundreds of bacteria.”

With the field of tick-related science moving very fast, “we will discover lots of new microorganisms,” she says. The newest molecular tools and techniques help scientists predict the possibility of disease. “New diseases transmitted by ticks — people call them emerging diseases — have been popping up on a regular basis,” she says.

Whether you’re a scientist or a citizen, safety remains key when you encounter — or are bitten by — a tick.

Through her eyes

Depending on the species — and how well-fed they are — female ticks “can lay thousands of eggs. Two thousand. Three thousand,” Beati says. This is why people who wade into long grass and disturb a batch of larvae may find hundreds of ticks clinging to them.

“One of the important things we tell people when they want to remove ticks is, don’t break the tick,” Beati says. She explains that if you do so, any bacteria in the tick could end up on your skin. If you have an open wound, whether from the tick bite or not, the tick juice might infect you. “So always, when you remove ticks, make sure you disinfect well your hands and your fingers.”

For a tick to grab hold of you, you have to touch them, and then they will climb on you and decide whether you are an animal they like, Beati explains. If so, they will find a place on your body where they feel comfortable enough to feed.

This is usually a “darker place where they can hide,” Beati says. “So if you find a tick crawling on you, you have a bit of time before they actually start biting you.” Even after an infected tick bites, hours may pass — up to 24 after the initial bite — before you become susceptible to disease.

*Please see my comment at end of article*

Beati herself is no stranger to their bite. It happens all the time, she says: “I actually love that. It helps me collect.” That said, not every tick she discovers in this way finds its way to a home in one of her specimen jars.

Disease may be frightening, but fear is not uppermost in Beati’s mind when she sees a tick.

“If you look at any tick under the microscope, you will find something beautiful about them,” this renowned scientist says. “They look like beautiful wood.”

0riginal story:

As to transmission time to infection: (Excellent video by microbiologist Holly Ahern)
Only 1 mouse study has been done that showed by 24 hours every tick had transmitted infection; however, animals studies have proven it can occur in under 16 hours and frequently in under 24.  NO HUMAN STUDIES HAVE EVER BEEN DONE, and no studies have determined minimum time required for transmission.  There is also the issue of partially fed ticks which can transmit more quickly as spirochetes are already in their salivary glands.  Also, Anaplasma and other tick borne infections can be spread in minutes.
One other point:  No ticks can’t fly, but they can blow in the wind.  They state they can’t drop from trees, but let’s use our gray matter for a moment.  If a tick comes off a bird or rodent in a tree, who is to say it can’t fall or drop and infect a person beneath.  Many patients insist they became infected this way. (one such story here but I’ve heard of many, many more)

Lyme Talk Tomorrow Night in Monona


Current Topic:

Lyme Disease – The Challenges, The Controversy, and HOPE – Sept. 13th, 7 pm

* Watch prior meeting topics on the: WAPF Madison youtube channel

Future Topics:

Oct. 11 – Dr. Steven Wilke, Chiropractor
Nov. 8 – Holistic Approach to Fat and Cardiovascular Health – Katy Wallace, ND
Dec. 13 – Holiday Party
Jan. 10 – Kefir – Bill Lensmire
Soy in the Diet of Humans & Animals
Nourishing Our Children DVD
Heart Disease / Cholesterol / Statins
High Lysine / Low Arginine Diet
Soil Health – Symphony of the Soil – film screening
Growing Cities film screening
Natural Parenting
Natural Birth Options
Our Immune System and Vaccines
Drinking Water
Chronic Pain
Autoimmune Diseases
Fat-Soluble Vitamins and Minerals

Your Idea For a Topic and/or a Speaker!
If you want more information, or have a suggestion for a future meeting topic, please email us:


Babesia Spread to Newborn  (News video here)

“Cole who was three and a half weeks old at the time spiked a fever at night and I brought him to the local emergency room,” Jillian said.

After the local clinic couldn’t figure out what caused the fever, the Kuhns took Cole to UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, where after much testing, they determined he had Babesiosis, a tick-borne blood infection.

Doctors believe Cole obtained the infection during pregnancy as the mother was also infected.

For more on Babesia:

All Guts Matter

How a tick gut gene serves as a gateway for Lyme disease

The bacterium that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, may have some help from a gene found in the guts of infected ticks, according to a new study led by Yale researchers and published in Nature Communications.

A comparison of two slides, showing less Lyme disease infection in the gut of a tick lacking the PIXR gene.
In the gut of ticks lacking the PIXR gene function (right) more biofilm forms to block Lyme disease infection compared to a control gut (left).

The research team identified a number of tick gut genes that demonstrated enhanced expression when infected by B. burgdorferi. One of those genes secretes a protein known as PIXR. When the researchers blocked the gene’s function in ticks, colonization of the tick gut by the Lyme bacterium — a key step in sustaining infection prevalence in ticks — was limited. In the guts of ticks lacking PIXR, the researchers also observed changes in gut microbes, gut metabolites, and gut immune responses. The changes included an increase in bacterial biofilm, or microorganisms that potentially form a sticky barrier to infection.

The findings suggest that the guts of ticks actively manage the microbes in their environment, turning that environment into a “barricade” or “gateway” to infection depending on the bacteria that dominate.

For more on ticks:


Perhaps the quickest way to negatively impact the tick population is to feed them an exclusively American diet.