Polymicrobial Nature of Tick-Borne Diseases

Polymicrobial nature of tick-borne diseases

  • 430 of 678 (63%) positive for at least one human pathogen
    • 57% Adults/27% Nymphs – Lyme
    • 14% Adults/15% Nymphs -Babesia
    • 14% Adults/2% Nymphs – Anaplasmosis
    • 3% Adults – Tick-borne Relapsing Fever
    • 2% Adults – Powassan

The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) transmits five pathogens to humans: Lyme (Borrelia burgdorferi), Babesia (Babesia microti), Anaplasmosis (Anaplasma phagocytophilum), Tick-borne Relapsing Fever (Borrelia miyamotoi), and POWV – Powassan Virus. Tick-borne infections range from asymptomatic to fatal. The incidence rate is higher in children and the elderly. Deer ticks are a public health threat. Half the deer ticks collected in the Northeast have the Lyme bacteria. Almost a quarter have polymicrobial infections. As a result, a polymicrobial approach must be taken when diagnosing and treating tick-borne illness to make sure no infection is missed. Polymicrobial tick-borne infections complicated diagnosis in terms of testing and making a clinical diagnosis. Polymicrobial tick-borne infections make symptom severity worse as the infections can have a synergistic effect. The exposure of another tick-borne infection could alter the clinical course of a tick-borne disease.

Sanchez-Vicente S, Tagliafierro T, Coleman JL, Benach JL, Tokarz R. 2019. Polymicrobial nature of tick-borne diseases. mBio 10:e02055-19. doi:10.1128/mBio.02055-19

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