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

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.

Citizen-Scientist Study is First to Find Ticks Capable of Carrying Lyme Disease in 83 U.S. Counties Where Previously Undetected

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

Citizen-Scientist Study is First to Find Ticks Capable of Carrying Lyme Disease in 83 U.S. Counties Where Previously Undetected

Study Validates Citizen Participation as Viable Method for Health Agencies to Evaluate Tick-borne Disease Risk

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA, July 12, 2018 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the results of the first citizen-scientist study to evaluate the prevalence of disease-carrying ticks throughout the United States. Conducted through a partnership with Northern Arizona University and Colorado State University and published in the peer-review journal PLOS ONE, the study is based on a massive sample of more than 16,000 ticks collected from 49 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. The study found 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.

“Identifying geographic patterns of tick-human contact provides valuable insight that may help public health officials, patients and physicians become more vigilant about Lyme disease, increasing early diagnosis,” stated Linda Giampa, executive director at Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “Based on these findings, it is critical that residents throughout the country take precautions and know the symptoms of tick-borne infections, even in areas where ticks have not previously been shown to cause disease.”

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Now Accepting Applications for $450,000 in Emerging Leader Award Research Grants

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Now Accepting Applications for $450,000 in Emerging Leader Award Research Grants

‘Emerging Leader Award’ aims to attract new scientific talent to address challenges of Lyme disease

Portola Valley, California, December 5, 2017—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced a call for applications for three Bay Area Lyme Foundation ‘Emerging Leader Award’ grants, one for $250,000 and the other two for $100,000. These awards will be given to promising scientists who embody the future of leadership in Lyme disease research in the US. The award recipients will be researchers in academia or the private sector who have demonstrated professional and scientific leadership in the biomedical sciences and who can offer scientific rationale for a research project that can advance diagnostics or treatments for Lyme disease.

The Challenges of Lyme Disease Reporting: Critical Consequences for California

Wendy AdamsLyme disease is a nationally notifiable disease, recognized and tracked by the federal government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for surveillance purposes. Surveillance data provides important information for assessing public health risks and allocating research dollars. Per the CDC, “The goal of Lyme disease surveillance is not to capture every case, but to systematically gather and analyze public health data in a way that enables public health officials to look for trends and take actions to reduce disease and improve public health.” However, these statistics have important implications for individual patients as well.

In this post, Bay Area Lyme Research Grant Director and Advisory Board Member Wendy Adams discusses some important changes to the CDC definitions of Lyme disease and some concerning implications for patients in the state of California.

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In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta published an updated Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) 2017 Case Definition. Lyme disease case definitions have been published since 1995, and the previous definition was published in 2011. The CDC actually is not responsible for this definition; instead it is the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) that is responsible for Lyme disease surveillance.  Each state has its own State Epidemiologist (see info about CA here). Despite being a federal agency, the CDC can offer input on these definitions but the CSTE is not obligated to accept those suggestions.

The case definition for Lyme disease is only intended to be used to determine cases for surveillance purposes and not to represent the full incidence of Lyme in a given area.  However, this subtlety is often confusing for doctors who see these low case numbers as proof that they do not need to consider a Lyme diagnosis in CA.  The low numbers also are convenient for insurance companies who inappropriately use this narrow definition as diagnostic criteria to deny coverage for patients whose cases don’t meet the definition.

Ticks, Ticks, and More Ticks!

A Conversation with Dr. Nate Nieto, Northern Arizona University and Head of the Free Tick Testing Program


Nate Nieto_312Just six months ago, Bay Area Lyme launched a free Tick Testing Program through a partnership with Nate Nieto, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and his lab.

The lab accept ticks from any state in the US and ticks are tested for several bacterial infections. The goal is to learn more about the ecological distribution of the major tick vectors and the prevalence of tick-borne pathogens that people encounter in different locations around the country ultimately to improve both prevention and diagnostic measures.

The initial response to this program far exceeded any anticipations — thousands of ticks poured in from all over the nation! Here, we sat down with Dr. Nieto to talk about what he has seen in these first few months and how the program will continue to grow and evolve. 

For more information about how to submit a sample, please refer to the Tick Testing page.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Offers Free Tick Testing Nationwide

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Offers Free Tick Testing Nationwide

Free Tick Testing Initiative Is First In The Nation and Aims to Map Tick-borne Diseases Across the U.S. Through Crowd-sourcing

Silicon Valley, CA, February 16, 2016 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, today announced that the Foundation is the first to offer free tick testing for residents of the U.S.  Testing is available through a partnership with Nate Nieto, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University and his lab.  Bay Area Lyme Foundation hopes to use this crowd-sourced data as a vehicle for gaining a greater understanding of the geography of tick-borne diseases in the U.S.  If successful in accumulating data, it will be the first crowd-sourced study of its kind.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation To Provide Tick and Lyme Disease Education in the Solano Resource Conservation District

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

 

Bay Area Lyme Foundation To Provide Tick and Lyme Disease Education in the Solano Resource Conservation District

Program is open to the public and part of extensive education program throughout the Bay Area

Silicon Valley, California, October 26, 2015—The Bay Area Lyme Foundation, which aims to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, will provide training about ticks and Lyme disease to naturalists, outdoor educators, program managers and the general public in the Solano Resource Conservation District, as well as other local agencies, to better educate area students, parents and classroom teachers. The program is part of an educational initiative started at Bay Area Lyme Foundation to inform California residents about prevention, the proper removal of ticks, and symptoms of tick-borne diseases.  It is based on new information that Lyme disease is endemic to the area.

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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Media Contact:
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…