FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com
Bay Area Lyme Foundation Tick Testing Program Adds Bartonella Pathogen Assay
Nationwide Free Tick Testing Initiative Will Inform Citizen-Science Studies to Better Understand the Spread of Ticks Carrying Diseases Throughout U.S.
Silicon Valley, CA, July 11, 2019 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the relaunch of its nationwide free tick testing program, which will include an assay for Bartonella, a disease-causing pathogen carried by ticks. Based on the success of the Free Tick Testing Citizen Science program, Bay Area Lyme Foundation has significantly increased funding for the 2019 nationwide collection effort, adding an automated submission process and increased research support. Researchers anticipate this citizen- science program will enable the organization to unearth further discoveries.
Results of the first citizen-scientist study were published in the peer-review journals PLOS ONE in 2018, and International Journal of Health Geographics in 2019. The study, which evaluated the prevalence of disease-carrying ticks throughout the United States, and included a massive sample of more than 16,000 ticks collected from 49 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, led to the discovery of ticks capable of carrying Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in 83 counties, in 24 states, where these ticks had not been previously recorded. The program received a six-fold increase in tick submissions over initial estimates, representing unprecedented national coordination of a ‘citizen science’ effort and diagnostic investigation.
“The tremendous response to our initial collection program from residents all across the country has demonstrated a national desire for a greater understanding of tick-borne diseases, compelling our increased commitment,” said Linda Giampa, executive director at Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “Through a greater understanding of tick-borne disease risk across the U.S., we hope to better arm patients, clinicians and researchers with valuable insight in hopes of improved education, faster diagnosis, and more informed research toward making Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses easy to diagnose and simple to cure.”
As the only national free tick testing service, the program is designed to offer insights into the pathogens carried by ticks, and the results, in addition to any symptoms, should be discussed with a healthcare provider. Results from the tick test are not intended to be a diagnostic and individuals should discuss any symptoms or changes in health status with their physicians, as some tick bites will not transmit agents that cause disease. Since the founding of the program in 2016, institutions and local government entities across the U.S. have been inspired to initiate similar free tick testing programs for the purpose of diagnostics and/or research.
Testing is available through a partnership with the Nieto Lab at Northern Arizona University, which will accept ticks from any state in the U.S. Ticks will be tested for six pathogens: Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease; Borrelia miyamotoi, which causes hard tick-borne relapsing fever; Anaplasma phagocytophilum, which causes human granulocytic anaplasmosis; Rickettsia rickettsii, the agent of Rocky-mountain spotted fever; the protozoan pathogen, Babesia microti; and Bartonella spp. Results will be available within twelve business days of receipt based on estimated volumes. The data will be reported to the sender by email, as well as added to our national database, to better understand ticks and tick-borne diseases.
“We are investigating changing trends in tick-borne diseases, and hope that improved understanding of the geography of human exposures to ticks and pathogens will revamp current perceptions of disease risk and the ticks’ spatial distributions,” said Dan Salkeld, PhD, research scientist, Colorado State University, who will be involved in evaluating data obtained from this program for potential future research publications.
U.S. residents seeking more information should visit: https://www.bayarealyme.org/lyme-disease-prevention/tick-testing/
Bartonella are intracellular parasites that are transmitted by the bite of infected Ixodes ticks to humans, and infect red blood cells, macrophages, and endothelial cells. Symptoms of bartonella may consist of swollen or enlarged lymph nodes and may cause fevers and, more rarely, eye disorders, or infections of the liver, spleen, or bones. Many patients also experience an inflamed blemish at the transmission site which looks like a red bump on the skin and then may develop into a large pimple. Neurological involvement may also occur. There is a great need for an effective diagnostic and treatment for bartonella, and currently the most reliable assay for bartonella infection is through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in blood, spinal fluid, and tissue.
About Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is the leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US. A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme Foundation collaborates with world-class scientists and institutions to accelerate medical breakthroughs for Lyme disease. It is also dedicated to providing reliable, fact-based information so that prevention and the importance of early treatment are common knowledge. A pivotal donation from The LaureL STEM Fund covers overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs. For more information about Lyme disease or to get involved, visit www.bayarealyme.org or call us at 650-530-2439.
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