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Same Tick, New Illness

A new disease has been found by researchers in the northeastern region of the United States that is transmitted by the same deer tick

A new disease has been found by researchers in the northeastern region of the United States that is transmitted by the same deer tick

January 17, 2013 – A new disease has been found by researchers in the northeastern region of the United States that is transmitted by the same deer tick that infects people with the debilitating Lyme disease.

Researches from Yale, Tufts and other institutions said flu-like symptoms are caused by the bacterial illness, but they also used the case of one woman who is 80, who became both withdrawn and confused, developed problems with her hearing, lost weight and took on a wobbly gait. After being given antibiotics, the woman was able to fully recover.

Researchers estimate 1% of the population in the areas where Lyme disease is common, such as Cape Cod, the islands and areas of western Massachusetts might be infected by the new disease. The deer tick can transmit the new bacteria even when it is as small as just a poppy seed, said researchers. In these areas, Lyme disease is said to be up to 10% more prevalent.

The new disease is the fifth one in humans that is spread by the tick in the region. It underscores the threat the ticks pose. The disease is not named as it is so new and no readily available test has been developed to screen for the disease.

One scientist said the disease might have caused some unexplained symptoms including fatigue and decline in cognitive abilities in certain people who thought they had Lyme disease but whose test came back negative for the disease.

Doctors are pleased that the disease looks to be treatable in the small number of people who have reported it. In six separate cases described in the research, patients received antibiotics and completely recovered. None of those, who were infected whether treated or not, described persistent long lasting symptoms.

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