TOUCHED BY LYME: When are Lyme-like symptoms actually caused by B. miyamotoi?
Borrelia miyamotoi is a tick-borne pathogen that has only recently been known to cause disease in humans. It’s related to Borrelia burgdorferi—the Lyme disease spirochete—and causes similar symptoms.
However, Lyme disease tests don’t work for it. Is this a reason that some people who appear to have Lyme disease don’t show positive on standard lab tests? Might they in fact be infected with miyamotoi?
Fewer than 60 human cases of miyamotoi have been documented in the United States, partly because there is no readily available diagnostic test for it.
The CDC website says: “Confirmation of a diagnosis relies on 1) the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that detect DNA from the organism or 2) antibody-based tests. Both types of tests are under development and not widely commercially available but can be ordered from a limited number of CLIA-approved laboratories.”
Ticks infected with miyamotoi have been found in California, but there are no reports of human cases there, because no one has ever gone to the trouble to look for them.
This is what Sharon Brummitt wants to do. She is a PhD student in Epidemiology at the University of California, Davis. She and her colleagues plan to obtain 500 human serum samples from blood banks in parts of the state that have a lot of Lyme disease. Her team will test the samples for antibodies to both B. miyamotoi and B. burgdorferi.
The intent of the research is to establish that Californians are, in fact, being exposed to B. miyamotoi. This is an important first step. You have to know there’s a problem before you can solve it, yes?
It is hoped this project will lead to research that will eventually bring better tests and treatments.
Brummitt needs $4000 to get her project going and has started a fundraising page on Experiment.com.
Experiment.com is a platform for funding scientific discoveries. Because donors directly fund the project scientists, there is no overhead involved. Furthermore, all projects are rigorously reviewed, provided feedback, and scientifically approved by the Experiment team.
Because we think this project holds such promise, LymeDisease.org has offered Brummitt a $2000 matching grant. Along with other donations, she’s more than halfway to where she needs to be.
Can you help? Even a donation of $10 or $15 can help move her towards the goal. And, since you’ll be directly funding her work, you’ll receive updates about the progress of her research.
Click here to learn more about the project and to make a donation.
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s VP for Education and Outreach. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at email@example.com.
- October 7, 2016 at 1:38 pm
There are as many genospecies in the Relapsing Fever group of Borrelia as there is in the burgdorferi group. Bm, being in the RF group, will not create a positive BB WB… only the RF WB can be used to diagnose organisms in the Borrelia RF group – 40% of the infected ticks in the Bay Area have Bm.
- October 7, 2016 at 6:43 pm
Could you check mine? I’m in Washington, and have enough bands to be suspicious, but not positive for BB. I tested positive for anaplasmosis. My last CD57 is 10. I have become allergic to most foods.
- November 6, 2016 at 2:58 pm
I was diagnosed with Lyme but had some positive and some negative Western Blots but a consistently positive C6 Elisa. 100 nymphal ticks were collected on my property on Sonoma Montain in Northern CA. Of those ticks, all collceted in a a few hundred square foot area within 100 feet of my home – poor diversity, 4 were PCR positive for Borrelia burgdorferi and one for Borrelia miyamotoi. This is a poor sampling but it found 1/5 were Bm infected by PCR at the UCB laboratory.
I was unable to get local Kaiser doctors to take a Bm infection seriously even though I had many bite/exposures, ignored rashes, and classic Lyme symptoms. This is a serious problem inside Kaiser and Northern CA doctors in general. They either ignore the problem due to idealogy or are unaware of the issues even in such an obvious situation with a C6 positive at multiple labs and mixed positive Western Blots showing 1/5-5/5 CDC bands depending on the lab.
The need for an effective test that either detects all species or a test per species and can distinguish between an active versus past infection in people with varying immune responses is at a near desperation stage given hundreds of thousands of known infections per year. How many miyamotoi or other species infections are being missed? Its a shame medical scientists in this area are often ideology driven or influenced by a herd/crowd effect and career fear. Its great other objective scientists are getting involved.
- February 12, 2017 at 6:20 pm
I live in Ventura County, CA and was just diagnosed with b. burgdorferi and b. miyamotoi through a PCR test. Although I don’t have fevers, I have ‘spells’ where I become very ill very quickly with general malaise, chills, flushing, and slight nausea. My temperature actually drops a bit. This lasts 1-3 days and disappears as quickly as it came. This happens every 3-4 months. I have other daily symptoms of illness that started 4 years ago as well….the spells just seem to be another part of it.
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