“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,” said Dr. Dumler, an expert on tick-borne diseases who has worked all over the world. “This had never been seen in humans before. We still have a lot to learn about this species, but it may be that this bacteria is infecting humans over a wide area.” He collaborated on the paper with scientists at several Chinese institutions: the Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, the Mudanjiang Forestry Central Hospital, and the Shanghai Institute of Medical Genetics at Shanghai Jiaotong University. The lead author of the study was Wu-Chun Cao, MD, PhD, of the Beijing Institute.
The researchers tested 477 patients in northeastern China who had been bitten by a tick over a month-long period in the spring of 2014. Of those, 28, six percent, were found to have been infected by the new species of bacteria. This microbe is related to other Anaplasma bacteria, some of which can cause illness when transmitted from ticks to humans. Dr. Dumler himself discovered one such disease, human anaplasmosis, two decades ago.”
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IxodesIxodes persulcatus, the taiga tick, is a species of hard-bodied tick distributed from Europe through central and northern Asia to the People’s Republic of China and Japan.