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New Jersey Among States
Hardest Hit by Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can cause debilitating symptoms, is caused by the tick-borne spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lyme and other tick-borne diseases include anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, bartonella, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. They can cause headaches, cranial neuropathy, lymphocytic meningitis, dementia, nervous system problems and facial palsy. Although early symptoms can be treated with antibiotics, the Journal says the symptoms resolve within months even if untreated.

However, according to members of the LymeQuest Support Group and Advocacy Project, the symptoms can last for years and become debilitating, commonly misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, Lou Gehrig's disease and Alzheimer's.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 23,000 cases reported annually, but because Lyme is a clinical diagnosis by a physician, the numbers could be 10 to 12 times as high, especially since patients are constantly misdiagnosed. Lyme is prevalent in 65 countries around the world.

From 1990 to 2006, New Jersey has had one of the highest incidences of Lyme disease cases in the nation, as measured by the CDC surveillance criteria, and Monmouth County ranks second in the state.

"It is pretty much epidemic-proportioned in many areas of the world. It's a great problem," said Pat Smith, president of the National Lyme Disease Association.

Also, according to a study published in 1993, the long-term cost of Lyme disease to families, school systems, the health care system and the economy is $1 billion per year, and the average treatment, diagnosis and lost wages related to Lyme is over $60,000 per year per patient. Since cases have more than doubled since then, costs could be over $2 billion.

Some Very brief summary thoughts of Jennifer Amato at: hub.gmnews.com/news/2008/0619/Front_page/020.html


Journal of Clinical Microbiology, December 2003, p. 5557-5562, Vol. 41, No. 12

Evidence of Borrelia lonestari DNA in Amblyomma americanum [LONE STAR] (Acari: Ixodidae) Removed from Humans

Ellen Y. Stromdahl,1* Phillip C. Williamson,2 Thomas M. Kollars Jr.,1 Sandra R. Evans,1 Ryan K. Barry,1 Mary A. Vince,1 and Nicole A. Dobbs,2

Entomological Sciences Program, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland 21010-5403,1 DNA Identity Laboratory, Department of Pathology and Anatomy, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Ft. Worth, Texas 76107-2699 2

Received 20 May 2003/ Returned for modification 19 August 2003/ Accepted 28 August 2003

We used a nested PCR with Borrelia flagellin gene (flaB) primers and DNA sequencing to determine if Borrelia lonestari was present in Amblyomma americanum ticks removed from military personnel and sent to the Tick-Borne Disease Laboratory of the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine. In our preliminary investigation, we detected Borrelia sequences in 19 of 510 A. americanum adults and nymphs from Ft. A. P. Hill, Va. During the 2001 tick season, the flaB primers were used to test all A. americanum samples as they were received, and 29 of 2,358 A. americanum samples tested individually or in small pools were positive. PCRs with 2,146 A. americanum samples in 2002 yielded 26 more Borrelia-positive samples. The positive ticks in 2001 and 2002 were from Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The last positive sample of the 2001 season was a pool of larvae. To further investigate larval infection, we collected and tested questing A. americanum larvae from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; 4 of 33 pools (40 larvae per pool) were positive. Infection of unfed larvae provides evidence of the maintenance of B. lonestari by means of transovarial transmission. Sequence analysis revealed that the amplicons were identical to sequences of the B. lonestari flaB gene in GenBank. Despite the low prevalence of infection, the risk of B. lonestari transmission may be magnified because A. americanum is often abundant and aggressive, and many tick bite victims receive multiple bites.

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