Lyme-like bacteria found in Australian paralysis tick
Bacteria from the same group as the organism that causes Lyme disease, (the Borrelia group), have been discovered in an Australian paralysis tick (scientific name Ixodes holocyclus).
But researcher Dr Peter Irwin, Associate Professor in Small Animal Medicine at Murdoch University, is quick to say that the Lyme disease bacterium itself has not been found in an Australian tick.
Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. We found them in German ticks. We didn’t find them in Australian ones, ” says Dr Irwin, leader of the study that made the discovery.
The researchers sequenced DNA from 196 paralysis ticks collected in NSW between 2004 and 2012 and compared the results with 30 German ticks of a different species, Ixodes ricinus. Lyme disease is known to exist in German ticks.
“We found this different Borrelia in one Australian tick. And I think we need to emphasise – it is only one tick. Maybe it was a one-off and we’ll never find it again … or maybe it’s quite widespread,” says Dr Irwin.
The DNA sequence was too short to determine whether the Australian Borrelia was one of the 4 species causing relapsing fever or a new, very closely related species, says Dr Irwin.
The finding is the first report of a relapsing fever Borrelia species in Australia, which “may have public health implications,” the authors write.
There is a vigorous debate about the possibility of a tick-borne Lyme-like disease existing in Australia, which was the subject of a Clinical Advisory Committee set up by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chris Baggoley, that was dissolved in July 2014.
A new species of bacteria in the Candidatus Neoehrlichia genus was also detected in the Australian ticks. A closely-related species (Candidatus N. mikurensis) can cause serious illness in people who are immuno-compromised, the authors write. It is the first time this genus has been detected in Australian ticks.
Candidatus Neoehrlichia was found in 16 of the 196 Australian ticks, with 3 of these ticks being removed from people.
Dr Irwin says the next step is to test more ticks using his new technique. He has plenty in waiting, including ticks removed from Australians who believe they have a Lyme-like illness.
Last Reviewed: 06/07/2015
Reproduced with kind permission from 6minutes.com.au.
Gofton AW et al. Inhibition of the endosymbiont â€œCandidatus Midichloria mitochondriiâ€ during 16S rRNA gene profiling reveals potential pathogens in Ixodes ticks from Australia. Parasites and Vectors. http://www.parasitesandvectors.com/content/pdf/s13071-015-0958-3.pdf
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness. Find out about the symptoms of Lyme disease, diagnosis, tests and treatment.
New Borrelia bacteria species found in echidna ticks
Australian researchers have identified a novel species of Borrelia, the group of bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, in ticks on echidnas. Its potential to cause disease in humans is unknown.
Tick removal: First aid and prevention
Tick removal techniques that use tweezers run the risk of squeezing the tick - doctors now recommend freezing the tick while it's on the skin to avoid allergic reactions and tick-related illnesses.
Mammalian meat allergy
Symptoms of mammalian meat allergy usually start 3-6 hours after eating the meat or meat product, but can be between 2-10 hours after, sometimes waking a person in the middle of the night.
Native plant gives hope in rheumatoid arthritis
Extracts of mountain pepper, an Australian plant, have a high antibiotic activity against bacteria that may be a trigger for rheumatoid arthritis.