May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

It's a month dedicated to educating the public about the dangers and prevention of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Lyme disease, caused by the bacteria Borrelia, is the most common tick-borne disease. However, ticks also carry and transmit other diseases such as babesiosis, bartonellosis, and anaplasmosis, among others. These tick-borne diseases can have severe consequences on the health of those affected, hence the importance of awareness and knowledge sharing. For more detailed information please visit: Global Lyme Alliance and Invisible International hosted webinar: Lyme & Tick-borne Disease CME Webinar.

Understanding Borrelia:

Borreliosis, caused by the bacteria Borrelia, is an infectious disease transmitted through the bites of infected ticks. The bacteria Borrelia can be split into two main groups; the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato group, which causes Lyme disease, and the relapsing fever group. Lyme disease is the most common tick-born disease with approximately 476,000 cases annually in the United States during 2010–2018. Symptoms of Lyme disease can be confused with immune and inflammatory disorders, and can range from skin lesions, arthritis, neurological disease, and cardiac disease. For signs and symptoms, refer to the CDC's guide here The relapsing fever group consists of different species that can cause severe fever and spirochetemia in the blood. These Borrelia species have developed strategies to evade the immune system, such as altering the composition of their surface proteins to evade the immune response. It is thus crucial to perform adequate testing, looking for all different Borrelia strains and not only to B. burgdorferi sensu lato only. R.E.D. Laboratories is offering the unique ​​​​​​​Phelix Phage Test to detect different intracellular Borrelia species.

Other Tick-Borne Diseases:

Alongside borreliosis, many other pathogens are transmitted by ticks causing clinically relevant infections. Some of these include:

  • Babesiosis: This is caused by parasites of the genus Babesia, which are similar to malaria. Symptoms include fever, sweating, fatigue, and hemolytic anemia among others. The disease is more severe in patients who are immunosuppressed, splenectomized, and/or elderly. 
  • Bartonellosis: This disease is caused by species of the genus Bartonella and is primarily associated with fleas and lice. However, certain Bartonella species are carried by the same ticks that carry Lyme disease, and ticks are likely the chief source of human bartonellosis infection. Bartonellosis can cause severe diseases in humans such as Cat scratch disease (CSD), endocarditis, trench fever, and Carrion’s disease.
  • Rickettsia: Rickettsia species are infectious bacteria that are closely related to other fleaand tick-borne pathogens like Bartonella and Ehrlichia. Diseases caused by these bacteria can be classified into Spotted fever group rickettsioses (SFGR) and Typhus group rickettsioses.
  • Anaplasmosis: This disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum is spread by tick bites. These bacteria have the ability to evade the immune system and infect host cells.
  • Ehrlichiosis: This is a general name used to describe several diseases caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia chaffeensis, E. ewingii, or E. muris eauclairensis. Ehrlichia species are bacteria that can evade the immune system and infect host cells

Conclusion: Awareness is a powerful tool in the fight against tick-borne diseases. By taking preventive measures, staying vigilant for symptoms, and advocating for greater understanding during Lyme Disease Awareness Month, we can safeguard our health and that of our communities. Don't let ticks go unchecked – spread the word, and let's take a bite out of Lyme!

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