New Study Reveals Ticks in Bay Area Carry Larger Diversity of Bacteria Than Expected and May Help Explain Why Lyme Disease Symptoms Vary Widely Among Bay Area Patients

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Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

New Study Reveals Ticks in Bay Area Carry Larger Diversity of Bacteria Than Expected and May Help Explain Why Lyme Disease Symptoms Vary Widely Among Bay Area Patients

Rates of tick infection with Borrelia miyamotoi are found to be higher in the Bay Area than previously documented on East Coast, and Tick-borne disease infection risk is shown to be higher in Redwood habitats than previously believed

SILICON VALLEY, Calif., August 19, 2015 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, which is working to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, highlights a new Bay Area study  conducted by researchers from Stanford and Northern Arizona Universities documenting a vast diversity of bacterial species and strains that cause tick-borne diseases in Bay Area residents and visitors.  The variety of bacterial species and strains identified may be the reason that Bay Area patients with tick-borne diseases experience a wide range of symptoms, which may or may not include flu-like complaints, joint pain, fatigue and a rash of differing shapes, thereby making exact diagnoses extremely difficult.

Are the Deer to Blame?

deer_300Blacklegged ticks, both the Western and Eastern varieties, are often known as “deer ticks” … Does that mean deer are to blame for the spread of Lyme disease?

Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is not obvious. While deer are a common host animal for the ticks (and can carry as many as 1000 ticks per animal!), they do not support the Lyme-causing spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria). Ticks can feed, reside, and reproduce on deer but need to come into contact with the bacteria via another host before biting a human to spread Lyme disease. So, while there is a correlation between human Lyme cases and corresponding deer populations, it has more to do with the deer enabling the expansion of the tick population than the transmission of the bacteria. Mice and ground squirrels, both of which are common hosts for both ticks and the bacteria, are much more likely to bring infected ticks into human contact (…just in case you were looking for another reason to avoid rodents!)

There are a lot of intriguing facts and misperceptions about which animals do or don’t contribute to Lyme risk. And more research is being done to evaluate exactly which layers of the food chain have the greatest impact in the proliferation or containment of the ticks and the bacteria. Here’s what we know now…

Spreading the Word About Ticks in California

Jo Ellis, Director of Education Outreach at Bay Area Lyme Foundation and Dan Salkeld, PhD, a foundation research scientist, lecturer at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and Professor at Colorado State University, recently attended the Association of Outdoor and Environmental Educators (AEOE) conference in Marin County, CA to update naturalists and outdoor educators on Lyme disease and tick-bite prevention.

IMG_9088_640Here, Bay Area Lyme research scientist Dan Salkeld shows California naturalists how to drag for ticks at the Association for Environmental and Outdoor Educators annual conference.

Moose Under Threat

Ursula 3_156The following story was written by Ursula Jongebloed, a first-year Dartmouth College student who frequently leads trips in the Northeast with the Dartmouth Outing Club. Ursula is originally from Menlo Park, California, and has friends from all over the country who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease after being bitten by ticks during outdoor adventures.

Each year during winter term, the Dartmouth Outing Club leads a weekend outing to the Second College Grant, a 27,000-acre area of wilderness given to the college by the state of New Hampshire in 1807. On the last night of the trip, the thirty students gather around a wood stove in the center of a log cabin to listen to older members of the Dartmouth Outing Club speak. This year, the speaker was Kevin Evans, the Director of Woodlands Management for Dartmouth’s Second College Grant.

2014: A Year in Review

It is that time of year when we reflect and take stock of all that’s happened over the past 12 months – the highs and the highlights and what it portends for the year ahead. As we quickly approach the close of 2014, we are proud of the progress that has been made and grateful to all those who helped create greater awareness, understanding, and discovery around Lyme disease, its agents, and its progression. It has been a year of collaboration and innovation across the research field with promising developments for new treatments and diagnostics