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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.