New tick-borne infection discovered in New England

At least 24 people in the northeastern United States were recently infected with a newly described and yet-unnamed illness borne by ticks.

Nineteen of the cases of Borrelia miyamotoi, a spirochete related to the microorganism that causes Lyme disease, were described in two reports published in the January 17 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. Since then, five additional cases were confirmed, IMNG Medical News reports.

Peter Krause, a Yale University epidemiologist, said that patients can be coinfected with both B. miyamotoi and B. burgdorferi, the Lyme disease parasite. Krause said that because the spirochetes are genetically similar, the illnesses can respond positively to the same antibiotic regimen.

The disease was first identified in Japan in 1995. The first human cases were diagnosed in Russia in 2011 when 46 patients were infected.

Four of the 18 positive subjects in the New England cases had erythema migrans skin lesions and two others had smaller-sized lesions less than five centimeters in diameter. One patient became quite ill with symptoms including headache, fatigue, myalgia, neck stiffness, abdominal pain, cough, sore throat, arthralgia and right inguinal lymphadenopathy. The patient recovered with a 14-day course of doxycycline, according to IMNG Medical News.

All other symptomatic patients recovered with amoxicillin or doxycycline treatment.

Cases in the United States have been reported in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Krause said that any patient who develops otherwise-unexplained viral like illness in the summer or spring should be considered at high risk for one or both of the Borrelia illnesses, IMNG Medical News reports.