Borrelia lonestari: Pathogen of Relapsing Fever in Alabama

Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID), (Vazquez Guillamet, LJ; et al.) published a research letter, “Relapsing Fever Caused by Borrelia lonestari after Tick Bite in Alabama, USA” in February, 2023. In this letter, authors report the identification of B. lonestari causing relapsing fever in an immunocompromised patient in Alabama.

The 75 year old male patient had been experiencing symptoms of extreme fatigue and relapsing fevers with chills, sweating, headache, dizziness. He was also found to have pancytopenia (lower-than-normal number of red and white blood cells and platelets). Upon further evaluation the patient was observed to have abnormal presence of spirochetes circulating in his blood after a known tick bite 4 weeks previous to symptom onset. Investigators identified B. lonestari as the pathogen by using PCR, sequencing, and phylogenetic analysis.

Authors state that B. lonestari may be an emerging tick-borne pathogen and increase of clinical availability of molecular diagnostics may help identify future cases.

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