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ASTMH: Infectious Organism Prevalence Studied in Ticks

Researchers find especially high levels of Borrelia burgdorferi in ticks removed from humans

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Ticks harbor high levels of infectious organisms that can cause tick-borne disease in humans, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Phillip C. Williamson, Ph.D., of the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, and colleagues tested 389 Ixodes scapularis ticks removed from humans, primarily from the upper Midwest, mid-Atlantic and New England.

The researchers found that 78 ticks were infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, three were infected with Anaplasma phagocytophilum, six were co-infected with B. burgdorferi and A. phagocytophilum, six were co-infected with B. burgdorferi and Babesia microti, and one was co-infected with A. phagocytophilum and B. microti.

"Because of concerns about tick-borne Bartonella infections voiced by patient groups and physicians, and because of evidence of Bartonella sequences amplified from I. scapularis ticks, further PCR of these 2005 ticks is being conducted using primers for the gltA gene of Bartonella spp.," the authors write.

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