Researchers Find Link Between Lyme Disease and Babesiosis

According to a recent study, one common tick-borne disease can raise the chances of people catching other less common conditions.

According to a recent study, one common tick-borne disease can raise the chances of people catching other less common conditions.

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health announced the findings of their study which showed that mice with Lyme disease-causing pathogens “appear to facilitate the spread of a lesser known but emerging disease, babesiosis, into new areas,” according to a statement from the school.

The results of the study were published in PLOS ONE after using a combination of lab experiments, mathematic models, and data collected in the field. According to the statement, the researchers believe this proves why babesiosis is becoming more prevalent primarily in areas where Lyme disease has already been reported.

“Ticks and natural hosts are commonly co-infected in nature, so understanding how these pathogens may influence each other’s abundance and distribution is key for public health,” noted Maria Diuk-Wasser, a senior author of the study who also works at the school as well as Columbia University.

“We found that B. burgdorfer and B. microtico-occur in ticks more frequently than expected, resulting in enhanced human exposure to multiple infections that can cause more severe symptoms and sometimes make diagnosis more difficult.”

The authors reported that 95% of all the Lyme disease cases in the country come from just 14 states, mostly from the east coast to the Midwest, with roughly 30,000 new cases each year. Babesiosis is found in many of the same areas but an equally high 95% of cases of that condition are found in 7 “core” states including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island along the coast. In the Midwest, the greatest concentrations are found in Minnesota and Wisconsin with around 1000 new cases each year.

One considerable difference between the two conditions is babesiosis “is potentially fatal in immunocompromised patients and can be transmitted through blood transfusions in addition to tick bites, posing an additional public health threat,” the statement noted.