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Borrelia Miyamotoi - New Tick Transmitted Disease in North America

  • Date: 2013/02/20 (Rev: 2018/05/04) Press Release* : Hunterdon Medical Center - hunterdonhealthcare.org
  • Synopsis : Borrelia miyamotoi is a bacteria carried by ticks that causes symptoms similar to Lyme disease in North America.

Main Document

Hunterdon Medical Center Physician Successfully Treats First Confirmed Case of Borrelia Miyamotoi - Joseph Gugliotta, M.D.; Anne Felix; Anthony Suarez, MLT (ASCP), Senior Laboratory Technician at Hunterdon Medical Center; and Amy Kurynow, MLT (ASCP), Senior Laboratory Technician at Hunterdon Medical Center. Suarez and Kurynow called attention to the spirochetes during the analysis of the fluid sample from Ms. Felix.

Lyme Disease is a common tick-borne illness in North America and Europe. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.

Deer ticks, which feed on the blood of animals and humans, can harbor the bacteria and spread it when feeding.

You're more likely to get Lyme disease if you live or spend time in grassy and heavily wooded areas where ticks carrying the disease thrive. It's important to take common-sense precautions in areas where Lyme disease is prevalent.

Joseph Gugliotta , M.D., an Infectious Disease Specialist at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, N.J., successfully diagnosed and treated the first confirmed case of Borrelia miyamotoi, a bacteria carried by ticks that causes symptoms similar to Lyme disease, in North America.

The findings, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 17, 2013, prove the existence of the formerly unnamed pathogen first reported in Russia in 2011, and will have direct implications on the future diagnosis and treatment of Borrelia miyamotoi.

Led by Gugliotta, the article was co-authored with Heidi Goether, Sc.D. and Victor Berardi , MS of Imugen Inc., and Sam Telford, Sc. D. of Tufts University.

"Further research is being conducted on this organism, but we have shown - without a doubt - that this organism can cause disease and it may be responsible for an illness in a patient that tests negative for Lyme disease," explained Dr. Gugliotta.

"Currently, Imugen can test blood samples to determine the presence of this pathogen, but as we move into our second phase of research, they are working to create markers to conduct a rapid test for the organism which will allows us diagnose the disease quickly in patients."

The infection was discovered last year in patient Anne Felix , an 80-year-old non-Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor.

Within a four-month period, she experienced severe weight loss, increased confusion and withdrew from daily activities.

After testing negative for Lyme disease, Gugliotta conducted a large-volume spinal tap procedure, which led to the discovery of spirochetes, a corkscrew-shaped bacteria, in the patient's spinal fluid.

Felix was treated with a high dose of penicillin and began recovering after only five days, and within 30-days she returned to normal with the only remaining effect being minor hearing loss.

"Unfortunately, this disease has gone undiagnosed for many years, especially in older patients," said Gugliotta.

"I hope that this discovery and the continued research and advancements in detection will help other doctors and patients recognize the need for treatment."

Dr. Gugliotta has been an Infectious Disease Specialist at Hunterdon Medical Center for 30 years and has demonstrated an ability to see the broader public health implications of the clinical work he performs every day with patients.

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Hunterdon Medical Center, acknowledged as a leader in developing comprehensive medical and health care services, is a 178-bed non-profit community hospital. Our goal is to meet the needs with health care that is compassionate and effective. We provide a full range of preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic inpatient and outpatient hospital and community health services. Our staff is committed to providing the highest quality care to our patients. The Hunterdon Medical Center is also a teaching institution and is affiliated with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The Family Medicine Residency Program is one of the first in the nation for the training of specialists in family medicine. For more information about Dr. Gugliotta and Hunterdon Medical Center, visit: www.hunterdonhealthcare.org

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