Opossums: Allies in the fight against Lyme disease
Lymeblog News March 31. 2015 Lexington, KY USA By Mac McDonald, BS, MA, CCE Editor Lymeblog News
Why you should brake for possums
Photo: Jesse Hirsch The Virginia opossum is not the brightest of animals. When they are threatened, they pretend to be dead, which is where we get the expression "playing possum." Sometimes, they do this in response to threats from oncoming traffic, which results in possums becoming roadkill.
The next time you see a possum playing dead on the road, try your best to avoid hitting it. Because it turns out that possums are allies in the fight against Lyme disease.
Possums, like many other small and medium sized mammals, are hosts for ticks looking for a blood meal. But possums are remarkably efficient at eliminating foraging ticks.
"In a way, opossums are the unsung heroes in the Lyme Disease epidemic." says Rick Ostfeld, author of ...
Small, fast, and crowded: Mammal traits amplify Lyme disease risk
Lymeblog News March 29. 2015 Lexington, KY USA By Mac McDonald, BS, MA, CCE Editor Lymeblog News
Mice and shrews most effective at transferring Lyme disease and other pathogens to feeding ticks
(Millbrook, N.Y.) In the U.S., some 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease annually. Thousands also suffer from babesiosis and anaplasmosis, tick-borne ailments that can occur alone or as co-infections with Lyme disease. According to a new paper published in PLOS ONE, when small, fast-living mammals abound, so too does our risk of getting sick.
In eastern and central North America, blacklegged ticks are the primary vectors for Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis. The pathogens that cause these illnesses are widespread in nature; ticks acquire them when they feed on infected animals.
Richard S. Ostfeld, the paper’s lead author and a scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, has researched the ecology of Lyme disease since 1992. “A pattern emerged in our long-term studies. Ticks that fed on certain rodents and shrews were much more likely to pick up multiple pathogens, making the environment riskier for people.”
Eastern chipmunks are small-bodied animals with fast lives and dense populations. When ticks feed on them, they are more likely to pick up multiple disease-causing pathogens.(credit: Sam Cillo)
To investigate why mammals differ in their ‘reservoir competence’ or ability to transmit pathogens to ticks, Ostfeld and his co-authors from Bard College, Oregon State University, the University of South Florida, and EcoHealth Alliancetook a two-pronged approach. First, they looked at life history traits for nine mammals known to harbor Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis. Attributes like body size, litter size, and life span were taken into consideration.
Then they looked at the role of mammal population density. As ‘sit and wait’ parasites, ticks are much more likely to encounter animals with dense populations. This, in turn, could help pathogens evolve to exploit specific hosts, resulting in more effective transmission rates.
For Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, fast life history features were a strong predictor of an animal’s ability to transmit infection to ticks. Body size was inversely related to reservoir competence. Raccoon, skunk, opossum, squirrel, and deer infected fewer ticks than their mouse, chipmunk, and shrew counterparts.
Raccoon were among the larger-bodied animals with slower lives and more sparse populations. They were less likely to infect ticks with Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis. (credit: Barry Haydasz)
Ostfeld notes, “This is consistent with past research on Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and Eastern Equine encephalitis. There is evidence that animals that mature early and have frequent large litters invest less in some immune defenses, making them better pathogen hosts.”
Lyme disease: A Simple Explanation Promoting the Lyme Disease Challenge
Lymeblog News March 28. 2015 Lexington, KY USA By Mac McDonald, BS, MA, CCE
Sarah Herbert created this informative video about what Lyme disease is, how it is transmitted, and some of the challenges facing both patients who have Lyme disease and the doctors who treat them as part of the Take a Bite Out of Lyme Challenge.
Star Studded "Time for Lyme" Gala Honors UK's "Queen of Chic Lit"
Lymeblog News March 27. 2015 Lexington, KY USA By Mac McDonald, BS, MA, CCE Editor Lymeblog News
"We are on the brink of significant scientific advances that will revolutionize the field of Lyme disease research."
JOIN THE 2015 "TIME FOR LYME" GALA ON APRIL 11TH!
This year’s “Time for Lyme” Gala is to be held Saturday, April 11, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich in Old Greenwich, CT
The Lyme Research Alliance, sponsor of the event, will be honoring author Jane Green for all her contributions to Lyme disease education and awareness. The foundation will also be presenting an award to Dr. John Aucott for his many accomplishments in, and support of, scientific Lyme disease research.
Best-selling British author Jane Green, often referred to as “the queen of chick lit,” will be recognized for her work educating the public about Lyme disease. Green was misdiagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder, which eventually turned out to be Lyme disease.
"(Writing) requires a huge amount of discipline. And energy. The energy bit has been harder the last few years as I’m living with Lyme Disease, or rather, more specifically, Post-Lyme Auto-Immune Disease ... so I spend a lot more time in bed than I used to."
Dr. Aucott is also a Principal Investigator for the landmark SLICE (Study of Lyme Disease Immunology and Clinical Events) project, a study which is examining the impact of acute Lyme disease on long-term health outcomes and immune functions.
"His clinical expertise and dedicated efforts toward unraveling the natural history of Lyme disease are worthy of the Hope Award’s prestigious recognition."
Ms. Green and Dr. Aucott will be joined by a dazzling group of Honorary Event Chairs, including:
Johns Hopkins Says Chronic Lyme Disease Costing 1.3 Billion Per Year
Lymeblog News March 26. 2015 Lexington, KY USA By Mac McDonald, BS, MA, CCE Editor Lymeblog News
“Regardless of what you call it, our data show that many people who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease are in fact going back to the doctor complaining of persistent symptoms, getting multiple tests and being retreated."
(Study Author, Emily Adrion, MSc)
JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH RESEARCH SUGGESTS PROLONGED IMPACT OF THE TICK-BORNE ILLNESS IN SOME PATIENTS IS GREATER AND MORE WIDESPREAD THAN PREVIOUSLY UNDERSTOOD
Lyme disease, transmitted by a bite from a tick infected by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, had long been considered easy to treat, usually requiring a single doctor’s visit and a few weeks of antibiotics for most people.
But new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that a prolonged illness associated with the disease in some patients is more widespread and serious than previously understood. With an estimated 240,000 to 440,000 new cases of the tick-borne illness diagnosed every year, the researchers found that Lyme disease costs the U.S. health care system between $712 million and $1.3 billion a year — or nearly $3,000 per patient on average — in return doctor visits and testing, likely to investigate the cause of some patients’ lingering symptoms of fatigue, musculoskeletal pain and memory problems. These visits come after patients have finished their original course of antibiotics.
Some doctors call those persistent symptoms post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS); others call it chronic Lyme disease. Still others attribute the complaints of fatigue, headaches and memory problems to the hum of daily life, the aches and pains that come with aging. At the core of the controversy is whether PTLDS can be a severe and chronic condition that requires more than reassurance and symptomatic therapy. While a blood test can confirm Lyme disease, there is no definitive test for PTLDS and there are no approved or proven treatments. It’s a controversial topic in medicine, the Johns Hopkins researchers say.
A report on the findings was published online Feb. 4 by the journal PLOS ONE.
“Our study looks at the actual costs of treating patients in the year following their Lyme diagnosis,” says study author Emily Adrion, MSc, a PhD candidate in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Regardless of what you call it, our data show that many people who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease are in fact going back to the doctor complaining of ...
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