Ehrlichiosis Infection Following Organ Donation

In a recent article, investigators describe multiple cases of organ transplant derived Ehrlichiosis infections in donor recipients. Two cases of ehrlichiosis were reported to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for investigation in 2020. These two kidney recipients from a common donor developed fatal ehrlichiosis-induced hemophagocytic lymphocytic histiocytosis (HLH). Additionally, two kidney recipients and a liver recipient from another common donor developed ehrlichiosis, and  were all treated successfully. Investigators suggest that donor-derived ehrlichiosis should be considered by clinicians when evaluating recipients with fever early after transplantation after more common causes are ruled out, and cases that are suspected for Ehrlichiosis should be reported to the organ procurement organization (OPO) and the OPTN for further investigation.

Access to full article here.

Read more LDA articles on Ehrlichiosis here.

Cohen Foundation Funds Establishment of the Bartonella Research Consortium


According to the Tulane news, a three-year, $4.8 million initiative funded by The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, will establish the Bartonella Research Consortium with the goal of developing a novel treatment for bartonellosis. There are over 40 known Bartonella species/subspecies and at least 17 of these species/subspecies have been associated with a spectrum of debilitating disease symptoms in humans. 

The Consortium is composed of key infectious disease researchers including Drs. Edward B. Breitschwerdt, Monica E. Embers, Timothy A. Haystead and Ricardo G. Maggi that will work collaboratively to study the complex and poorly understood Bartonella pathogens to provide patient relevant solutions to benefit both animal and human health. Funding for this research initiative draws on the combined strengths of research laboratories located at Duke University, North Carolina State University and Tulane University. 

Read the full Tulane News article here

Read more LDA articles on Bartonella here



Babesia odocoilei: First Report of Human Pathogen

In a new study, Scott et al. report the first detection of Babesia odocoilei in humans with Babesiois symptoms. This adds to the list of several Babesia species worldwide that are pathogenic to humans. In this study, it was also found that B. duncani cross-reacts with B. odocoilei, therefore patients in North America who test serologically positive for B. duncani, may actually be infected with B. odocoilei or another Babesia spp.

Read full article here:
Detection of Babesia odocoilei in Humans with Babesiosis Symptoms

Read more LDA articles on Babesiosis here.



Blocking Tick-Borne Infection with Nanobodies

Fig. 8. D7, but not D3, abrogates E. chaffeensis-induced increase in MnSOD and reduction in ROS and inhibits infection. (A) HEK293 cells were transfected with HA-tagged Nbs and infected with E. chaffeensis (Ech) at 1 dpt. Native E. chaffeensis Etf-1, E. chaffeensis outer membrane proteins P28/OMP-1F, Nbs, MnSOD, and human actin were detected at 2 dpi by Western blotting using their respective antibodies. (B, D, and E) Quantification of relative densities of MnSOD (B), P28 (D), and Etf-1 (E) normalized against actin. (C) ROS production at 2 dpi was analyzed by the fluorescent indicator H2DCFDA. Null, buffer control without H2DCFDA. (B−E) Data are presented as the mean ± SD from three independent experiments with triplicates per sample. *P < 0.05, by one-way ANOVA.

Ohio State University researchers have just published an article on their creation of nanobodies which target the protein that causes E. chaffeensis bacteria to be extremely infectious. Nanobodies are small molecules that can be designed to mimic the function  and structure of antibodies and may be the solution to inhibit tick-borne bacterial infections that remain inaccessible by most current antibiotics due to the fact that they reside and replicate inside human immune cells. 

Researchers conducted a number of experiments in both mice and cell cultures which identified one specific nanobody that could suppress E. chaffeensis infection by blocking three ways the protein enables the bacteria to commandeer immune cells. It is thought that these nanobodies can be developed as a new or complementary therapy for human monocytic ehrlichiosis as well as other tick-borne diseases that are caused by intracellular infections, infections that can be fatal if left untreated or undertreated. 

Read Science Daily article here.

Read full text Ohio State research article here.

Read more LDA posts on Ehrlichiosis here.

Surveillance of Babesiosis in the US

New study summarizes human surveillance data from 2011-2018 in the United States for Babesia infections reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). Data shows an increasing trend of reported Babesia cases (14,159 total) during this time period, with white men in the middle and elderly age groups most affected. Data also shows that the New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions of the US reported highest numbers of Babesia cases. 

Access to full article can be found here

Read more LDA articles on Babesia here. 

Pfizer Gets Priority Review for Tick-Borne Encephalitis Vaccine

Pfizer has received priority review for their vaccine, TicoVac, which protects against tick-borne encephalitis. This tick-borne virus can cause meningitis and trigger long-term neurological symptoms in humans. If approved, the vaccine would potentially protect travelers and members of the United States military that are deployed to regions where the virus is common, such as Europe and parts of Asia.

TicoVac is an inactivated virus vaccine that has been highly effective at preventing tick-borne encephalitis throughout Europe for four decades. With this FDA fast-pass, it is hoped that a US approval would occur by August and would simplify the process for US military members to get the vaccine. 

Pfizer is also developing a vaccine for another tick-borne illness: Lyme disease.

Read full article here.

Read more LDA posts on vaccines here

A Review of Human Babesiosis

Geographical distribution of human babesiosis. The darker the color, the more numerous cases there are. There are no reported cases in unfilled countries or regions.

In this newly published review, Emerging Human Babesisosis with “Ground Zero” in North America, authors address the geographic distribution of the human-infecting Babesia spp., their phylogenetic relationship, and their tick vector worldwide. Species reviewed for human infection include, but are not limited to, B. microtiB. divergensB. venatorumB. duncaniB. crassa, and two yet unnamed Babesia species needing further investigation.

Authors found that the number of human Babesiosis cases appearing in the literature has increased exponentially in the last 10 years. Babesiosis has been a nationally notifiable disease in the United States (US) since 2011. Though cases of Babesiosis have been reported from all continents except Antarctica,  the US leads the world in case numbers of human Babesiosis with more than 20,000 total cases reported since 2006.
The authors state several factors which may have contributed to this rapid increase in human case numbers of Babesiosis including increased awareness of the disease in the medical community, active monitoring and survey studies,  global warming,  transfusion transmissions and vertical transmission from an infected mother to child.


Read full text review here: Emerging Human Babesiosis with “Ground Zero” in North America

Read additional LDA articles on Babesia here


Babesiosis Cases Increasing According to Medicare Databases Study

A study by Mikhail et al in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, Feb. 2021, from 2006 to 2017 showed 19,469 beneficiaries had babesiosis recorded, a substantial increase. The highest states by rates were Massachusetts (62), Rhode Island (61), Connecticut (51), New York (30), and New Jersey (19). States previously considered nonendemic saw increases: New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

See details of study and rates at state and county level



Tularemia is caused by a bacterium, Francisella tularensis, transmitted by ticks.   It can also be transmitted by deer fly bite, contact with infected animal, contaminated water, contaminated aerosols or agricultural dust, bioterrorism. 

Symptoms can include headache, chilliness, vomiting, aching pains, fever, swollen glands, sweating, weight loss, debility,  infection site developing into an ulcer.

Treatment can include streptomycin or gentamicin.

Ticks that transmit tularemia include Amblyomma americanum (lone star), Dermacentor variabilis (American dog) and Dermacentor andersoni (wood).

©LDA. 2014. 2015.  This web site provides practical and useful information on the subject matters covered. It is distributed with the understanding that LDA is not engaged in rendering medical or other professional services. Seek professional services if necessary.

Pike County Ticks Exceed PA State Average for Carrying Tick-Borne Diseases

Deer Tick Questing
Blacklegged Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis)

The results of a study to collect ticks from Pike County, Pennsylvania, conducted by the Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory of East Stroudsburg University included real time PCR analysis of ticks countywide. The county was divided into 9 grids, each with several collection sites. The sites were based on use by community members and presence of favorable tick habitat and included: state parks, state game lands, township buildings, schools, township parks, communities and hiking trails.

All life stages of Ixodes scapularis ticks (deer tick) were collected, but only nymphs and adults were tested. Other tick species were collected and counted but were not tested for organisms. I. scapularis samples were tested for Borrelia burgdorferiBorrelia miyamotoiAnaplasma phagocytophilumBabesia microti, Bartonella species, Mycoplasma species, and Powassan Virus lineage ll.

Borrelia burgdorferi prevalence in I. scapularis ticks overall was 39%, with Bartonella spp. next with 18.5%. Percentages were significantly less for the other organisms tested.

Further publications by the University on this study are expected within the next few months.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recognizes that ticks carry Bartonella but does not believe there is evidence proving transmission to humans at this time.

In 2018, the Lyme Disease Association, Inc. awarded a grant to Pike County to help support this project.

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