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Deer Tick Disease Causing Flu and Dementia Like Symptoms

Lyme disease is not the only thing deer ticks carry that is hazardous to humans. In addition to the Lyme-disease bacterium and a couple others commonly carried by deer ticks, a newly identified bacterium may be responsible for some cases of the “summer flu.” Two new reports out indicate that deer ticks are hosts to Borrelia miyamotoi, an infection causing bacteria with symptoms similar to Lyme disease. The bacteria was first identified in 2011 by Russia; now a case involving an 80-year old woman with declining mental status has confirmed that bacteria is also being spread in the United States. The recent US case concerning the 80-year old woman has confirmed the presence of Borrelia miyamotoi in tick-prone areas. These areas include the northeast, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and northern California. The woman hailed from New Jersey and previously battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, compromising her immune system. She presented with a mixture of flu-like and Lyme-disease symptoms, in addition to a dementia development and brain swelling. Due to her previous history, physicians believed her cancer had returned and performed a routine spinal tap. It was through this spinal tap that they found the bacteria which appeared very similar to that of the Lyme-disease bacteria. Upon further inspection, physicians identified that she lived on a farm in New Jersey and knew what they were looking at. They treated the Berrelia miyamotoi infection with antibiotics and saw incredible improvement. It is now suspected that nearly 5,000 cases of Borrelia miyamotoi are contracted every year and overlooked because there are no standardized tests available to identify it. Experts believe that many of the “summer flu” cases they see throughout the tick-ridden areas may be caused by this new tick-borne disease. Fortunately, most people are able to recover easily, but should still converse with their physician for treatment. People with compromised immune systems, including cancer and AIDS are at the highest risk for problems, including dementia and brain swelling. These individuals should contact their practitioners if they feel they may have become exposed. Also, older people living in these tick-prone areas may have dementia development from the bacteria, and not due to normal aging or genetics. As for the 80-year old woman who has been treated with a course of antibiotics, she is back to normal, having all of her faculties. The dementia has disappeared and she is currently working on a stone fence for her farm.   Sources: Boston Globe - - Health - U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay - MedPage Today -
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