Jordan Hospital Physician Helps Develop Blood Test for Newly Discovered Tick-Borne Illness

Jordan Hospital announces that it is among the very first hospitals in Massachusetts and the United States to use a new blood test to identify the recently discovered deer tick-borne bacteria, Borrelia miyamotoi. It is the fourth recognized deer tick-borne infection of its kind in addition to Lyme disease, Babesia and Anaplasma.

Jordan Hospital Rheumatologist and IMUGEN medical director Dr. Philip Molloy was one of several researchers who discovered North American cases of this new deer tick-transmitted infection. Once the new deer tick germ was discovered, Molloy and other researchers at IMUGEN were able to develop a blood test in early 2013 to detect Borrelia miyamotoi, and distinguish it from the three other deer tick infections.

Prior to identifying this germ, and developing a blood test, individuals infected with Borrelia miyamotoi were often diagnosed as having the flu and treated as such, says Molloy. Now, armed with the blood test, physicians have another means of properly identifying and treating this infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 95 percent of deer tick infections are concentrated in the Northeast of the United States. In Massachusetts, the South Shore and Cape Cod are hotbeds for deer tick disease. These tiny ticks are extremely resilient and have the potential to stay attached to the skin even in the water and are often found in heavily wooded areas.

Given its geographical location, Jordan Hospital sees a high level of patients presenting with deer tick illness symptoms. Im particularly impressed with Jordan Hospitals Emergency Department physicians. They are very alert and aware of tick-borne infections and their symptoms, says Molloy.

Symptoms from a tick-borne infection usually present very similar to those of the flu. This could mean anything from aching to a high fever. However, flu in the summer is uncommon, so you may need to be tested for a tick-borne infection. Clinicians at Jordan Hospital are comfortable and well-trained to order these tests for a sick patient, adds Molloy.

The four deer tick-borne infections that have now been identified are: Lyme disease, Anaplasma, Babesia and now Borrelia miyamotoi. It is possible for a tick to carry more than one of these germs at a time. Its important that your doctor knows which one of these infections youre carrying, because each is treated differently. Sometimes, they may even go away on their own. Unfortunately, there is really no way to prevent a deer tick bite. You should always check yourself after you have been in a heavily wooded area.

Molloy is among a group of clinicians and researchers from IMUGEN who conducted a research study that lead to the discovery of the new germ, Borrelia miyamotoi, and ultimately, the new blood test. Their research article was published in the July 2, 2013 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Source: Jordan Hospital