Study Indicates Shrews as a Reservoir for Powassan Virus
Heidi K. Goethert, et al., published, “Incrimination of shrews as a reservoir for Powassan virus,” in Communications Biology. The study examines Powassan virus lineage 2 (deer tick virus), and the growing threat the pathogen poses to American public health. Powassan virus is known to cause severe neurologic disease although its life cycle in nature is poorly understood.
The researchers used a host-specific real-time PCR to investigate if white-footed mice–the primary eastern U.S. reservoir of Lyme disease– are also the reservoir for deer tick virus.
Of 20 virus-infected black-legged ticks, 65% fed on shrews and none fed on mice. This percentage of ticks feeding on shrews was clearly associated with the incidence of the deer tick virus infection, although not the Lyme disease agent. One shrew had viral DNA in its brain.
Based on the findings, the research team proposed that shrews are a probable reservoir host for deer tick virus and that evaluation of host blood meals can provide clear evidence to implicate reservoir hosts, thus providing a better understanding of the ecology of tick-borne infections.
Lyme Disease: 19ISP mRNA Vaccine Candidate Shows Clinical Efficacy
Sajid, et al., published in the journal Science Translational Medicine about the development of a promising mRNA vaccine, 19ISP, which has been found to induce tick resistance and prevent transmission of the Lyme disease-causing agent, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb). The researchers observed that hosts with repeated exposures to the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis (the most prevalent vector of the Bb), can develop resistance against ticks, also referred to as “tick immunity.” The vaccine was developed to generate this same type of tick resistance. Hosts inoculated with 19ISP developed erythema at the site of tick bite which, according to the creators of the vaccine, is a sign of acquired tick resistance. This resulted in poor tick feeding and transmission of Bb was reduced. The research team puts forth 19ISP as a promising antitick vaccine candidate with the hope that it may prevent transmission of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
Unique Evasion Mechanisms Allow Persistence of Borrelia Burgdorferi in Human Cell Lines
Karvonen, et al., published, “Distinctive Evasion Mechanisms to Allow Persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi in Different Human Cell Lines,” in Frontiers in Microbiology. The study aimed to better understand the mechanisms which enable Borrelia burgdorferi infections to progress into a persistent sequela of the disease by examining two non-immune and non-phagocytic human cell lines.
The study demonstrated how B. burgdorferi utilizes different mechanisms to persist. Host cell surface extensions, variations in borrelial shapes while invading host cells, and differences in intracellular handling of the bacteria, give Borrelia the ability to survive. The authors state, “Intracellular persistence of Borrelia, due to avoidance of lysosomal co-localization, lack of cytopathic effects, and the ability to change its shape, all provide strategies Borrelia can employ for immune evasion and persistence.”
Ixodes Scapularis Found Infesting Big Brown Bats in New York
James L. Occi, et al., recently published in the Journal of Medical Entomology regarding unusual findings of the three-host tick, Ixodes scapularis Say. Historically, this pervasive tick has been documented feeding on over 150 different species of terrestrial (land-dwelling) vertebrates including mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Found throughout the northeastern, coastal southeastern, and upper midwestern United States, I. scapularis has an extensive host range and is regarded as the most significant vector of tick-borne pathogens to humans in North America. However, it has never been reported feeding on bats (mammals of the order Chiroptera).
In 2019 and 2020, I. scapularis larvae and nymphs were retrieved from big brown bats, Eptesicus fuscus, at four locations in rural areas of New York State. Each of the Ixodes-infested bats were injured and located on the ground; thus, making possible opportunistic parasitism by I. scapularis.
LDA NOTE: J.L. Occi is a long-time member of the Lyme Disease Association’s Scientific & Professional Advisory Board.
Photo: Unidentified bats from the Public Health Image Library
#IGiveLDA – LDA’s Annual Giving Campaign
GivingTuesday Is Here! It is an International Day of Giving.
LDA will continue our Annual Giving Campaign in conjunction with #GivingTuesday. This year LDA will focus on the four pillars of our mission: education, prevention, research, and patient support. Your donations will help LDA fulfill our mission. will help LDA fulfill our mission. On average, 97% of contributions go directly to programs.
Our Giving Campaign will begin on 11/6 and end on 12/6. A page will be dedicated on the LDA website to the campaign with interesting information about our objectives and how you can support LDA. Visit LDA Giving – Lyme Disease Association to donate.
Two Literati with Lyme Authors had this to say about supporting the Lyme Disease Association’s Giving Tuesday campaign:
Internationally Acclaimed author Amy Tan who helped initiate LDA’s LymeAid 4 Kids: “It’s Giving Tuesday! Many thanks to those who give generously to enable kids to get properly diagnosed and treated. You are making a profound difference in the lives of kids and their families.”
Acclaimed Author and Literary Science Writing Award Winner Jordan Fisher Smith, a principal cast member and narrator for the film, Under Our Skin: “When I was on my fifth doctor a year and a half into a tick-borne illness, the Lyme Disease Association was there for me. I don’t know where I’d be today without them. For 31 years they’ve been among the best friends we’ve had. Now, please be there for them. For Giving Tuesday, give generously to the Lyme Disease Association #GiveLDA”
LDA will continue its Annual Giving Campaign in conjunction with #GivingTuesday. focusing on its mission: education, prevention, research, and patient support. Your donations will help LDA fulfill our mission. On average, 97% of contributions go directly to programs.
New Lyme & TBD Pregnancy Treatments/21st Annual Lyme & TBD Conf. Completed/President’s Blog: Why Patients Need Gov. Investigation/TBD Risk for Transplant & Transfusion Recipients/Cognitive Impairment After COVID/LDA #GivingTuesday, Nov 6 thru Dec 6
Lyme Disease Association-Columbia Virtual Conference
21st Annual Lyme & Tick-Borne Diseases Conference
CONFERENCE COMPLETED 2021 Annual Scientific Conference The Lyme Disease Association Inc. and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons jointly provided the 21st annual CME scientific conference, Lyme & Other Tick-Borne Diseases: Research for a Cure, virtually, on October 2, 2021. This conference is designed to meet the high standards for continuing medical education credits for medical & health professionals and researchers. It was also open to the general public (adults only). Limited number of scholarships were available for certain medical students, researchers, recent medical professionals.
The conference was sponsored by the Stephen & Alexandra Cohen Foundation and IGeneX Inc.
Quick Links to check out the conference:
See short video of conference summary by Dr. Brian Fallon below: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
John Aucott, MD / Keynote
Associate Professor of Medicine
Director, Johns Hopkins Medicine Lyme Disease Research Center
Long Haulers: Lessons from Lyme disease, ME/CFS, and COVID-19
Brian A. Fallon, MD, MPH (Conference Co-Director, Moderator)
Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University Vagelos College of P & S
Director, Lyme & TBD Clinical & Research Centers, Columbia U. Irving Medical Center
Depression, Suicidal Behaviors, and Lyme: Results from a Nationwide Study in Denmark
Ed Breitschwerdt, DVM
Professor of Medicine and Infectious Disease
Bartonella Bacteremia and Neuropsychiatric Illnesses
Brandon L. Jutras, PhD
Asst. Professor, Fralin Life Sciences Institute, Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech
Not just another brick in the wall: The unusual peptidoglycan of Borrelia burgdorferi
Catherine A. Brissette, PhD
Assoc. Professor, Univ. of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Borrelia colonization of the dura mater induces inflammation in the CNS
Adrian Baranchuk, MD, FACC, FRCPC, FCCS, FSIAC
Professor of Medicine, Queen’s University
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Electrocardiology
President Elect, Interamerican Society of Cardiology (SIAC)
All you need to know about Lyme carditis…and more!
Monica Embers, PhD (Conference Co-Director, Moderator)
Associate Professor and Director of Vector-Borne Disease Research
Tulane National Primate Research Center
Combined Antimicrobial Therapy for Eradication of B. burgdorferi
Kim Lewis, PhD
Professor of Biology, Northeastern University
Developing therapies for Lyme disease
Kenneth B. Liegner, MD
Disulfiram in the Treatment of Lyme disease: Promise & Perils
Marna E. Ericson, PhD
T Lab, Inc.- Director of Research
Hormel Institute – Adjunct Faculty
University of Minnesota
Bartonella henselae Detected in Malignant Melanoma
Ricardo G. Maggi, PhD
Research Professor, Internal Medicine
College of Veterinary Medicine
Simultaneous detection and absolute quantification of Babesia, Bartonella & Borrelia by droplet digital PCR
Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis Transmitted Through Blood Transfusions and Organ Transplants
A recent study published in the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal finds ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis can also be transmitted through blood transfusions or organ transplants. The article states, “Since 2000, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis cases in the United States have increased substantially, resulting in potential risk to transplant and transfusion recipients.”
The investigating clinicians reviewed cases of ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis among blood transfusion and solid organ transplant recipients in the U.S. from peer-reviewed literature and CDC studies. They identified 132 cases during 1997–2020, including 12 transfusion-associated cases and 120 cases in transplant recipients. Eight of the cases were donor-derived, and illness occurred in 13 of the cases less than one year after transplant. Disease in the remaining 99 cases occurred within one year, or longer, after transplant, which suggests that donor-derived disease was unlikely. Sadly, severe illness or death were reported among 15 transfusion and transplant recipients (Sanjida J., et al.).
The study’s authors emphasize that clinicians should be on the alert for these potential infections among transfusion and transplant recipients to prevent serious complications or death by treating them promptly.
Findings of Cognitive Function Assessment in Patients After COVID-19 Infection
A study published in JAMA Network Open examined the cognitive function in patients following COVID-19 Infection (Becker, JH, et al.). The researchers analyzed data from a cohort of COVID-19 patients from April 2020 through May 2021 and investigated rates of cognitive impairment in survivors who were treated in outpatient, emergency department, or inpatient hospital settings. Prior studies were hindered by limited sample sizes and substandard evaluation of cognitive functioning.
In this recent, more extensive study, researchers discovered a rather high frequency of cognitive impairment several months after patients contracted COVID-19. Among hospitalized patients, impairments in executive functioning, processing speed, category fluency, memory encoding, and recall were prevalent. The authors state, “The relative sparing of memory recognition in the context of impaired encoding and recall suggests an executive pattern. This pattern is consistent with early reports describing a dysexecutive syndrome after COVID-19 and has considerable implications for occupational, psychological, and functional outcomes.”
The authors emphasize that certain populations, such as older adults, may be particularly vulnerable to cognitive impairment after critical illness, yet a substantial proportion of the comparatively young cohort also exhibited cognitive dysfunction several months after recovering from COVID-19. The results of this study are consistent with research findings on other viruses such as influenza.