SOUTH GLENS FALLS — With tick season well underway, it is important to take proper precautions to avoid tick-borne illness this summer, especially when a tick was found on a child in South Glens Falls testing positive for Borrelia miyamotoi (B. miyamotoi), a tick-borne disease as well as Lyme disease.
Patients with B. miyamotoi are most likely to experience a fever, chills, and headache. Other common symptoms include body and joint pain and fatigue. However, this disease is not associated with any rash.
“It would take several days, at least, before you would get sick,” Dr. Brian McDermott said. McDermott is Saratoga Hospital’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control.
“This disease was first discovered in 1995 in Japan, and it’s only been a little more than 10 years that there has been any evidence that there has been this particular species existing in the United States,” he added.
The good news is patients infected with B. miyamotoi have been successfully treated with a multi-week course of antibiotics.
“Whether people have been treated or not been treated, people get better,” McDermott remarked regarding the time span in which the infection is treated.
According to the Lyme Action Network, this bacterium can be transmitted within the first 24 hours of tick attachment and the probability of transmission increases with every day an infected tick is allowed to remain attached. Currently, confirmation of a diagnosis relies on tests that detect DNA from the organism or antibody-based tests. Both tests are under development and not widely commercially available.
“So there is a small number of people who have developed infections from this bacteria with febril illness because it does not cause the rash of Lyme disease,” McDermott said.
“Just like any other infection, if you have a fever and don’t feel good, that would be about the only percepting (perceiving) sign that this infection would have,” he added. One characteristic of Borrelia miyamotoi that is different from Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) that is particularly concerning is that once a tick becomes infected with the pathogen, all the eggs laid by that tick, which number in the thousands per tick, will also carry the infection.
B. miyamotoi has since been detected in two species of North American ticks, the black-legged or “deer” tick and the western black-legged tick. These ticks are already known to transmit several diseases, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, Powassan virus, bartonellosis, babesiosis, and other infections.
“In general we have lots of ticks in our community, they are out there. You know good inspection of yourself, then children after being in exposed areas are certainly appropriate and I advocate for good routine skin checks of yourself and your children to keep everybody safe,” McDermott advises.