Lyme disease found in up to 90% of area deer ticks
Written by The Ridgefield Press Sunday, 29 November 2009 05:54
Deer tick, Ixodes scapularis Lyme disease bacteria infected 90% of deer ticks collected in three nearby Fairfield County towns in 2008 and 2009, compared to 60% infection rate of ticks collected in 2007, according to studies by a University of New Haven researcher.
Testing for babesiosis, a sometimes severe malaria-like disease that can be fatal, found the parasites that cause it in 30% of ticks -- including a 33% rate in Ridgefield ticks.
Dr. Eva Sapi, the molecular biologist and tick-borne disease expert from the University of New Haven who conducted the studies, noted during her collection work that a remarkable number of ticks could be found around Ridgefield's Shadow Lake.
``When Dr. Sapi was collecting ticks at Shadow Lake, she actually called to tell me (almost screaming) that she had never seen so many ticks!'' said Karen Gaudian of the Ridgefield Lyme Disease Task Force.
A different study by Columbia University researchers found that among ticks collected in nearby Westchester County, 65% were infected with the Lyme disease bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, and 72% of ticks infected with either Lyme or four other tick-borne diseases -- and 32% carried more than one disease.
The studies showing 90% of ticks infected with Lyme disease in the Fairfield County towns and 65% of ticks infected with it in Westchester are in contrast to statewide numbers amassed by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Of 1,470 deer ticks from around Connecticut tested by the experiment station for Lyme bacteria in 2008, 340 or 23% were found to carry the organism.
Among 128 deer ticks submitted to the state from Ridgefield in 2008, 48 were tested and 10 or 21% carried the Lyme bacteria.
For the last five years, the percentages of ticks from all over the state that tested positive for Lyme disease were 23% in 2008, 35% in 2007, 22% in 2006, 27% in 2005 and 39% in 2004.
The University of New Haven study led by Dr. Sapi was done under contract with the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance. A study she did under a previous contract with the committee found 60% of ticks tested positive for Lyme disease.
The researchers collected 899 ticks from 15 locations in Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton, Bethel and Newtown between October 2008 to July 2009.
Overall, the study found 90% of ticks it tested were infected with the Lyme disease bacteria, ranging from 98% in Newtown to 88% in Redding.
The ticks collected in Ridgefield were not tested for the Lyme bacteria, but for the Babesiosis parasite, Babesia microti. It was found in 33% infected, far higher than the previously reported levels of 5% to 8%. Combining results from the four towns on the babesiosis parasite, the study found a 30% of ticks infected with the range from 28% in Newtown to Ridgefield's 33%.
The New York State study found 20% of ticks with babesiosis.
Ms. Gaudian of the Ridgefield Lyme Disease Task Force was confident the rates of infection with the Lyme disease bacteria found in ticks from nearby towns -- 96% in Newtown, 91% in Bethel, 88% in Redding, and 90% overall -- would apply in Ridgefield.
``Yes, absolutely,'' she said, ``the infection rates for Lyme would be very similar to adjoining towns.''
Ms. Gaudian said confidence in the Lyme numbers from testing hundreds of ticks from neighboring towns helped with Ridgefield's decision to limit costs by having Dr. Sapi test ticks only the Babesiosis parasite.
``Each town was responsible for funding,'' Ms. Gaudian said. ``The reason she tested 100 ticks in Ridgefield is that was what we paid for; it was $2,000 to drag and test 100 ticks for one pathogen.''
The $2,000 was raised by the Ridgefield Lyme Disease Task Force, she said.
Dr. Sapi and her researchers collected 345 ticks in six hour-long drags at four sites in Ridgefield. Sixty-seven ticks were picked up at two different areas along Beaver Brook in Oct. 6, 2008. Five ticks were picked up Dec. 4, 2008, at Lake Windwing. And 273 ticks were picked up in three drags at Shadow Lake: 98 in October 2008, 55 in the December 2008 drag, and 120 on July 6, 2009.
The babesiosis parasite, Babesia microti, was found in 33% of 100 ticks tested from two sites, Beaver Brook and Shadow Lake.
``We have visited Ridgefield three different times and collected over 300 ticks,'' Dr. Sapi wrote to Pat Sesto and Georgina Scholl of the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance. ``...Shadow Lake is a beautiful lake surrounded by woods. There were some prickly bushes around the lake which were covered in adult ticks. Deeper in the wood we have found the same bushes and some low vegetation. The site is always extremely infested with ticks regardless when we visited the site (even in December).''
The next phase of the University of New Haven study will look for co-infections of ticks with the pathogens for Lyme disease, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis.
The New York study, which was published in the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, found 32% of ticks infected with more than one pathogen.
``Polymicrobial infection of ticks may result in transmission of several pathogens following a single tick bite,'' the paper says.
Including ticks from Westchester and also from Suffolk County on Long Island, the study found: 64% had the Lyme disease bacteria; 20% carried babesiosis; another 20% carried the microbe Anaplasma phagocytophilum, which causes human granulocytic anaplasmosis; 2% had the pathogen for the rare but sometimes fatal Powassan encephalitis virus; and 2% had Borrelia miyamotoi, which has been associated with but not proven to cause a relapsing fever.
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I doubt Venison carries any viable bacteria by the time it is cooked and eaten. Even if any remained it would be unlikely to infect someone via the digestive tract.
I think it is unlikely that cows and beef are not potential carriers of Lyme, since many are exposed to ticks like any other mammal. They may be the future breeding grounds for new, more antibiotic resistant strains of Lyme and many other pathogens.
I was just telling a friend about this before this study came out. I told him (He was bitten a few days ago) -- to get medical treatment immediately. He did, but suddenly he came down with flu-like symptoms.
He went to the doctors about 3 days later (5 days after being bitten), and he told the doctor. The doctor said "The chances of you getting Lyme are small, I myself have been bitten thousands of times since I'm such an avid outdoorsma, said the doctor." My friend said "Yeah, well I'd still like to be safe, could you give me 3-4 weeks of Doxycycline at 300-400mg per day?
The doctor said "Go home and think about it, if you still feel this way in a few days, call me."
My friend told him "No, now, please." The doctor said no, wait.
My friend called the next day and demanded them. The doctor wrote a prescription of 200mg per day, 14 days of Doxycycline.
Since he's my best friend, I told him that's horse****, and I ended up taking care of him with appropriate measures (you know what I mean).
Anyway, he's been having a lot of fatigue and tiredness. A lot of digestive problems too, and insomnia. This is so unlike him. So I'm trying to help as quickly as I can. He was bitten awhile back too, but didn't take it very seriously -- inspite of warnings.
My hope is he responds well and if so, I'll try to help him further with information and other things. He doesn't have insurance.
-------------------- I am not a physician, so do your own research to confirm any ideas given and then speak with a health care provider you trust.