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Thursday, August 30, 2012
The Advent of a New Tick Borne Illness
Some time ago, I presented a series here on tickborne illnesses. The US Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia has just announced the discovery of a new tick borne virus. Two Missouri farmers developed a viral illness following a tick bite, which caused a devastating and life threatening drop in their platelet levels. They lived 60 miles from each other and did not share a common area in which they are believed to have become infected. There was a five to seven day interval between the time they were bitten and the onset of the illness itself. Both of them required inpatient hospital care, of 10 and 12 days each and had severe headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. One remains weak with memory deficits. The symptoms were similar to another tick borne illness erlichiosis. Both men were bitten by the Lone Star tick. (Amblyomma Americanum) They were originally thought to have erlichiosis, but they did not respond to antibiotics. Later, a new virus was isolated from the blood of each man. Weeks of recovery time were required afterward. The CDC expects more cases and expects this illness to continue to spread. This virus falls into the family of phlebovirus, but is genetically unique. It is similar to the Chinese phlebovirus SFTSV. These viruses can and do disrupt platelet manufacture, and although hemorrhage was not a feature of the disease in these particular two Missouri farmers, it could certainly be in others who are eventually afflicted.
The CDC expects more cases and expects this illness to continue to spread at least to the areas in which the Lone Star tick inhabits. This comprises a completely new zoonotic infection, and could cause death in younger, older, particularly in patients of all ages who have other types of pre-existing medical conditions.
Our other posts which concern Tick Borne Illnesses:
Prior to this, these were the only known tick borne illnesses: