LYMEPOLICYWONK: NIH Tick Feeding Study Safety Risk Update
We recently received a response from the NIH regarding our concerns about the NIH tick feeding study and the risk of tickborne infections from the larval ticks that researchers intend to place on patients to feed. We have written the NIH about this several times. Our latest letter focused on the newly identified pathogen, Borrelia miyamotoi, which can be transmitted to larval ticks through the mother's eggs. We asked the NIH to tell us what bacteria they test for in the larval ticks to ensure that patients in the study are not at risk. According to the NIH, the following pathogens are screened for: Borrelia burgdorferi, Babesia microti, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia miyamotoi, Bartonella spp, Rickettsia sp., deer tick viruses and orbiviruses. We are glad to see that these pathogens are being screened for but remain concerned that unidentified pathogens nevertheless place patients at risk in the study.
To put this in perspective, consider that B. miyamotoi and Rickettsia 364D were only just identified as tickborne pathogens within the past couple of years. Ticks have been called “sewers of infection” with good reason. The problem today is that we have probably not identified all the pathogens that ticks carry. Accordingly, we believe the study poses undue risk of potential further infection for patients who participate, and we encourage you to steer clear.
Those interest in more information regarding the NIH xenodiagnosis study should review my January (https://www.lymedisease.org/news/lymepolicywonk/635.html) and September (https://www.lymedisease.org/news/lymepolicywonk/824.html) posts.
The LYME POLICY WONK blog is written by Lorraine Johnson, JD, MBA, who is the Chief Executive Officer of LymeDisease.org, formerly CALDA. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- November 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm
If it could prove Chronic Lyme I'd do it. As long as everyone is informed of the possibility of unknown infection it is up to the volunteer.
- December 4, 2011 at 3:18 pm
John, I am with you. With a research team(s) composed of people I trust, an excellent study design and people I trusted at the helm of trying to do their best to make sure the ticks were pathogen-free, I would be willing to do the same for the reasons you stated! Close and continuous evaluation of volunteers, including the use excellent direct detection techniques that are becoming more available; as well as guaranteed medical treatment in event of illness, I think should be built into study design.
More thought and ideas, anyone?
When will the dam break?
Then will the day break.
-bright morning star
We invite you to comment on our Facebook page.
Visit LymeDisease.org Facebook Page