ScienceDaily (Aug. 3, 2011) — A new tick-borne bacterium infecting humans with ehrlichiosis has been discovered in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It was identified as a new strain of bacteria through DNA testing conducted at Mayo Clinic. The findings appear in the Aug. 4 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Doctors at Mayo Clinic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, and state and local health departments say the new species from the Ehrlichia genus can cause a feverish illness in humans. The new bacterium, not yet named, has been identified in more than 25 people and found in black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis), in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Researchers used culture and genetic analyses.
"Before this report, human ehrlichiosis was thought to be very rare or absent in Minnesota and Wisconsin," says Bobbi Pritt, M.D., a Mayo Clinic microbiologist and director of the Clinical Parasitology and Virology Laboratories who helped coordinate the multi-agency team. "Therefore, physicians might not know to look for Ehrlichia infections at all."
Ehrlichia infect and kill white blood cells and may cause fever, body aches, headache and fatigue. More severe disease may involve multiple organs such as the lungs, kidneys and brain and require hospitalization. Ehrliochosis rarely results in death.
All four patients described in the New England Journal of Medicine article suffered fever and fatigue. One patient, who had already received a bilateral lung transplant, was hospitalized briefly for his illness. All four patients recovered following antibiotic treatment with doxycycline, the drug of choice for treating ehrlichiosis. Although more than 25 cases have been identified, many more have likely been missed or unreported, Dr. Pritt says. Read more>>
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