Bay Area Lyme Foundation Tick Testing Program Adds Bartonella Pathogen Assay

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Media Contact:
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/

About Bartonella
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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Media contact:
Tara DiMilia
Phone: 908-369-7168
Tara.DiMilia@tmstrat.com

Watch out for Tick Hitchhikers!

If your trail is overgrown and thick with tall grasses (and most are thanks to a very wet Spring this year) … then you need to be aware of TICK HITCHHIKERS…

Trails are dense with vegetation due to a wet spring.
Overhanging grass and twigs are perfect resting spots for hungry ticks waiting for their next ride.
Abundant ticks found in Marin county. Photo courtesy of Kaia Schweig.

Unlike their highway counterpart these tick free riders don’t ask, they just grab on as you, your pet (or your horse) pass by. They perch quietly on the grasses and weeds that line your trail or  backyard patiently waiting for  their next unsuspecting host (and likely meal).

All too easily, you end up taking home a few uninvited guests and if not careful about checking and removing these pests when you return home, you could also end up inviting possible infection into your home.

Ticks carry Lyme disease and many other related infections that can cause debilitating and lasting symptoms. Tick incidence is on the rise almost everywhere, in part due to climate change and wetter, milder winters. If you enjoy the outdoors, you need to be aware of these itinerant nuisances and you need to take precautions to stay safe…

Ticks Spread Farther Across US, Raising Risk of Lyme Disease Infections

Written by Julia Ries for Healthline on April 4, 2019; Reprinted with permission.

Although spring has just begun, tick season is already well underway. The slew of wet weather seen across the country has ticks crawling out and about earlier than usual. Seeing as most ticks thrive in warm, moist weather, tick season will likely be especially tough this year, health officials predict.

“While regions across the country were either unseasonably cold or warm this past winter, there’s one factor that almost all of them had in common: excessive moisture,” Jim Fredericks, PhD, the chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), said in the NPMA’s bi-annual Bug Barometer press release.

“From record-setting snow in parts of Texas and Arizona to excessive rain in the southeast, continued precipitation predicted for most of the country this upcoming season will allow pest populations to continue to thrive and multiply,” he said.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Endorses First Recommendations of New HHS Working Group Focused on Tick-Borne Diseases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

 

The Foundation encourages Congress to support the recommendations to fund efforts to increase scientific understanding of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections

Portola Valley, Calif., November 14, 2018—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the United States, offered their appreciation to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in response to The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group’s recommendation for increased Federal investment focused on Lyme disease awareness, education, diagnosis and treatment. This Federal Advisory Committee was enshrined in the 21st Century Cures Act, after years of work by Lyme disease advocates and their congressional representatives to review the Federal Government’s activities on tick-borne disease.

“This document represents an important first step by the U.S. federal government to recognize the need to better address tick-borne diseases,” said Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation and Member, Tick-Borne Disease Working Group.  “These recommendations make the powerful point that significant increases in federal government funding for tick-borne disease research are required before we can truly diagnose and treat tick-borne infections.”

While there are nearly 10 times as many people diagnosed each year with Lyme than HIV in the U.S., Lyme disease receives approximately 1% of the public funding that is allocated for HIV/AIDS.

National Dog Day is Sunday August 26th — Keep your Pets Tick and Lyme Safe!

Sunday, August 26th is NATIONAL DOG DAY and in honor of our furry four-legged friends, we wanted to share some tips and tactics for keeping you and your pet safe.

Lyme disease is on the rise — the geographic range and prevalence of Lyme-carrying ticks have expanded significantly in recent years, potentially due to climate change as well as many other factors. Here on the West Coast, temperate conditions mean that Lyme disease is almost a year-round (versus seasonal) threat.

Black-legged ticks prefer shaded, moist ground and leaf litter, but they can also be found clinging to tall grasses, brush, and shrubs. Ticks also inhabit gardens and lawns, particularly at the edge of wooded areas, around stone walls, and anywhere deer and white-footed mice (their most common animal hosts) might travel.

It is almost impossible to completely prevent an outdoor pet (or a human) from any tick encounters, there is simply too much exposure to natural tick habitats just outside our back doors. That being said, there are many simple things you can do to help reduce the risk of Lyme disease for you and your pet. Here we share some tips and some answers to the most commonly asked questions.

George Church, Ph.D., Ting Wu, Ph.D., Steven E. Phillips, M.D. and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D., Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2018 Emerging Leader Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

George Church, Ph.D., Ting Wu, Ph.D., Steven E. Phillips, M.D. and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D., Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2018 Emerging Leader Award

– Genomics, immunotherapy and unraveling the stealth attributes of Lyme disease are the focus of the 2018 Emerging Leader Award projects, designed to inspire new Lyme disease research –

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., May 14, 2018—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., announces the recipients of the 2018 Emerging Leader Awards, which are designed to encourage promising scientists who embody the future of Lyme disease-research leadership. George Church, Ph.D. and Ting Wu, Ph.D. will each be awarded a $250,000 grant to launch the Genomic Lyme Disease Research Initiative project at Harvard Medical School, and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D. and Steven E. Phillips, M.D. will each receive $100,000 toward therapeutic research related to immunotherapy and an innovative new drug aimed at eliminating chronic tick-borne infections, respectively. Lyme disease is a potentially devastating infection impacting more than 300,000 Americans each year.

Getting to the Heart of the Issue – Lyme Carditis: Why Early Diagnosis is Critical

by Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director and Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

 

Recently, we’ve started to hear more about Lyme carditis as one potentially lethal manifestation of Lyme disease.  What exactly is it, why does it happen, and how does it cause disease?

What is Lyme Carditis?

First of all, a little Latin.  When you see the suffix “-itis”, it denotes inflammation – often caused by an infection.  So, carditis literally means inflammation of the heart.

When a Borrelia infection enters the body, we know from animal studies that it disseminates quickly.  It tries to find the tissues where it is most comfortable, and often that includes the heart.  Borrelia can infect all parts of the heart – the myocardium, the pericardium, and the endocardium, the cardiac muscle, the valves, and even the aorta itself.  The immune system senses the presence of the spirochete bacteria and induces inflammation, the first prong of the immune system’s response.

Summer Camp in Lyme Land

Lia GaertnerThe following is a guest post by one of our esteemed Advisory Board members, Lia Gaertner. Lia is a scientist and also a Lyme patient who has turned her own frustrating experience with the disease into a personal mission to help create greater awareness and understanding about the illness. This year’s explosion in tick counts all over the country necessitates extra vigilance for all of us who enjoy the outdoors. Here, Lia shares some of her family’s precautions.


I am proud to serve as a member of the science team at the Bay Area Lyme Foundation (BAL).  As a survivor of two severe Lyme infections on both the East and West coasts of the USA, I know quite a bit about ticks and tick-borne infections. During my twelve-year struggle with Lyme and babesia infections, my physician husband and I had to educate ourselves about ticks and tick-borne infections by going to medical conferences, studying with doctors, reading scientific literature, and mostly by experimenting with dozens of tests and therapies (on me). Now, we both receive daily requests from desperate people who cannot find sufficient information on how to treat their tick bite or tick-borne infections.

Lyme BioBank: Enabling a New Wave of Lyme Research

nldb-bannerThe national Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB) launched in Summer 2014 after a successful Fund-A-Need campaign at our annual LymeAid benefit. This initiative, which began with a pilot study in East Hampton, NY, a highly concentrated endemic area for Lyme disease, was designed to help address the shortage of clinical samples to support research into better diagnostics and treatments for Lyme disease. The goal is to create a geographically diverse and robust pool of biological samples (particularly blood, but also tissue and other fluids) characterized with sufficient clinical data and validation information about any co-infections that can then be drawn upon by researchers around the country, allowing for more projects to come to fruition. The biobank has already expanded significantly and released the first samples to researchers last year, supporting a new wave of projects.

Liz HornLiz Horn, PhD, MBI, a noted expert experienced in building complex biorepositories and other bio-based technological solutions working with a wide array of researchers, institutions, and other agencies, was brought on as the Principal Investigator for the LDB. Dr. Horn has deep expertise in basic science, cancer biology, bioinformatics, registry questionnaire design, and biobank planning and operations.

We talked with Dr. Horn about the progress they have been making at the Lyme Disease Biobank.

Teaching the Teachers: Spreading the Word about Lyme Disease

Bay Area Lyme at 2017 Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators Annual Conference in La Honda, CA

Spreading awareness about Lyme and tick-borne infections among high-risk groups has been a key objective for our growing education outreach program at Bay Area Lyme Foundation and the Association for Environmental and Outdoor Educators (AEOE) has been part of our overall education outreach strategy. For the last three years, Bay Area Lyme has attended AEOE’s annual spring conference, raising awareness about Lyme and teaching professional naturalists, outdoor educators, and science teachers how to protect both themselves and the children they serve against Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.