April 27th, 2015
Tickborne diseases are a major public health problem around the world. Ticks carry and transmit a variety of microbes that cause disease. These illnesses, which include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Tularemia, can cause a variety of symptoms, often serious and sometimes deadly. Now, just in time for spring and the explosion of ticks in forests, lawns and trails, a new study by researchers from China and the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) has uncovered a never-before-seen illness transmitted by ticks. It’s possible that the disease could be a “substantial health threat” to humans and animals in areas where the carrier tick is common, the authors write in the paper.
J. Stephen Dumler, MD, a professor of pathology at the school, helped identify the newly discovered bacterial species, which the researchers named Anaplasma capra. The paper was published in the latest issue of the journal Lancet Infectious Disease.
“This is an entirely new species of bacteria,” says Dumler, an expert on tick-borne diseases who has worked all over the world.