New species of Lyme Disease-causing bacteria discovered
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with Mayo Clinic and health officials from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, reports the discovery of a new species of bacteria (Borrelia mayonii) that causes Lyme disease in people. Until now, Borrelia burgdorferi was the only species believed to cause Lyme disease in North America. This bacterium is carried by ticks and can infect humans through the bite of an infected blacklegged (or “deer”) tick. B. mayonii has been identified in blacklegged ticks collected in at least two counties in northwestern Wisconsin, but evidence to date suggests that the distribution of B. mayonii is limited to the upper midwestern United States.
EH professionals play a significant role in the reduction of tick-borne disease as they are often contacted by the public and healthcare providers to investigate complaints.
Some questions you may have:
Do we report this as Lyme disease?
Cases of Borrelia mayonii should be reported as Lyme disease using per your usual procedure.
Who should we contact if we get a case?
If you are a county or local health department, please contact your state health department. If you are with a state health department, please feel free to contact Alison Hinckley at CDC.
Main messages for health care providers:
- Health care providers in Upper Midwest should be aware of a newly discovered species of Borrelia, provisionally named Borrelia mayonii.
- Based on six described cases, symptoms are similar to that of Lyme disease, but may also include nausea and vomiting (four patients), neurologic involvement (three patients), high levels of spirochetemia, and a variety of rash types—including macular rashes and erythema migrans rashes.
- If you suspect that your patient might have Borrelia mayonii, consider both a PCR/blood smear and Lyme disease serology for suspect cases (even though PCR is not routinely recommended for Borrelia burgdorferi infection). LD serology may be positive for patients with B. mayonii.
- Treat the infection with antibiotics as you would for Lyme disease.
- Report cases to local/state public health department so they can follow-up with providers and patients and learn more about the clinical course of illness.
- Also consider anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, or babesiosis as causes of tickborne illness.