A tick-borne infection, caused by the bacteria Borrelia miyamotoi, is difficult to detect and diagnose according to doctors.
While scientists have known about the bacteria for decades, they’ve only begun spotting it in humans in the recent years, reports MSN Health.
Borrelia miyamotoi is an illness related to Lyme disease. Both cause flu-like symptoms, thus creating confusion. Lyme disease and Borrelia miyamotoi are carried and spread by deer ticks throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
Ticks are small arachnids in the order Ixodida, and along with mites, constitute the subclass Acarina. Ticks are parasites that sustain by living on the blood (hematophagy) of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians.
We typically see them feasting on domestic pets or on one another following strolls through heavily overgrown areas during the summer months.
Ticks inhabit areas with warm, humid climates. For an ecosystem to support these parasites, it must satisfy two requirements: a dense host population supplying adequate amounts of blood, and humidity high enough for ticks to remain hydrated.
These little bloodsuckers are vectors of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). These viral and bacterial tick-borne infections can affect the central nervous system and cause flu-like fevers, chills, headaches, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, and rashes.
Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) is an infectious disease caused by at least three species of bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia. In most cases, the infection and its symptoms are eliminated through administered antibiotics. However, delayed or inadequate treatment can lead to more serious symptoms, which can be disabling.
Although a Borrelia miyamotoi infection can mimic the same symptoms, acute Lyme disease often presents with rash while infection with B. miyamotoi does not – making it more difficult to medically isolate when making a diagnosis. B. miyamotoi cannot be detected using the standard tests for Lyme disease.
Both maladies plague patients with flu-like symptoms, but unlike Lyme, B. miyamotoi causes a relapsing fever that dwindles and then returns, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
The good news is scientists have developed a testing method for the bacteria and the tick-borne infection can be treated with antibiotics. But doctors don’t always consider testing for the infection when screening patients for tick-borne illness as it isn’t as commonplace as Lyme disease or anaplasmosis.
It is advised that when you’ve spent time outdoors, especially in wooded or overgrown areas during the late spring and summer months, to have someone perform a full body check for ticks. Use repellent and wear long-sleeves, long-pants – tucking the ends of the legs into socks – whenever possible to cut down on a tick sneaking up your leg.
If you suspect you have acquired a tick-borne infection and are experiencing flu-like symptoms seek medical attention to rule out the aforementioned illnesses.
[Image via Wikicommons]