Deer Interventions May Reduce Overall Cases of Lyme Disease in the Future

Researching Methods to Reduce Cases of Lyme Disease

In addition to ongoing research into new medical treatments for Lyme Disease, there is important research going on to try to reduce or prevent cases of Lyme Disease.

Since Lyme Disease is caused by the black-legged tick whose primary host is the white-tailed deer, research into prevention centers around the deer. Here is a look at one study aimed at reducing populations of white tail deer for this purpose.

Photo : WikiCommons

The white-tailed deer is one of the main hosts of blacklegged ticks – the insect known to spread Lyme disease. For many years now, researchers have wondered whether reducing the deer can lower the disease risk. They finally have an answer. After conducting a study that span across a period of 13 years, researchers in Connecticut found that Lyme disease risk could indeed be lowered by reducing the number of white-tailed deer.

“We found that reducing deer density by 87 percent resulted in a significant reduction in tick abundance, nearly a 50 percent reduction in tick infection rate, and an 80 percent reduction in resident-reported human cases of Lyme disease,” the authors wrote in a press statement. “Our study demonstrated that deer populations can be manipulated to reduce human interactions with deer, infected nymphal ticks, and human risk of contracting Lyme disease.”

“Reducing deer populations to levels that reduce the potential for ticks to successfully breed should be an important component of any long-term strategy seeking to reduce the risk of people contracting Lyme disease,” the authors stated. “Additionally, good hunter access to deer habitat and a wide variety of management tools (bait, unlimited tags, incentive programs) are important components of a successful deer reduction strategy.”
– via Headlines & Global News

Other Deer Research to Prevent Lyme Disease

The excerpt below discusses two deer-targeted interventions that hold promise in preventing cases of Lyme Disease by reducing populations of black-legged ticks.

One method uses bait stations that treat the deer with a pesticide killing the ticks. The second method reduces the population of the white tail deer itself. Here are the discussions and their findings.

One study showed that more than 95% of adult female ticks feed on white-tailed deer. Nymphal ticks will also feed on deer.

Therefore, deer-targeted interventions could provide a large-scale method for controlling tick populations by reducing the number and movement of blacklegged ticks.

Two proposed deer-targeted interventions have included a topical acaricide applied using a four-poster device and deer-reduction programs.

However, few studies have evaluated whether deer-targeted interventions resulted in decreased LD incidence, particularly in non-island settings.

The four-poster device is a passive topical treatment system developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services. A central bin stores and dispenses bait to attract deer. As the deer feeds, rollers apply an acaricide directly to the head, ears, and neck, which is transferred to other body areas by self-grooming.8 Studies of this device have shown a significant decrease in blacklegged tick abundance on deer and in the surrounding area.

Another deer-targeted intervention aims to reduce deer populations through a controlled deer hunt.

The results of the four-poster analysis showed a general decreasing trend in EM rash incidence in all areas

In the original treatment area, the mean incidence before treatment was 427.5 cases per 100,000 population (standard deviation [SD] = 94.2); after treatment, the mean incidence was 137.8 cases per 100,000 population (SD=80.6). The mean incidence was significantly different before and after treatment.

The four-poster results are consistent with other studies that showed the device was effective at reducing tick populations and with computer simulations suggesting that acaricidal treatment of deer would prevent the most cases of LD.

In Mumford Cove, reducing the number of deer did not have a significant effect on the reported EM rash incidence despite a significant decrease in tick abundance. There was a 45% decrease in mean EM rash incidence after treatment in the original treatment area and a 46% decrease after treatment in the relative rate of the original treatment area compared with the original control area. – via PubMed Central (PMC)

Do you live in an area with a large population of white-tailed deer?

New Studies Offer Hope for a Future Without Lyme Disease

John Hopkins Opens Research Center for Lyme Disease

In May of this year, John Hopkins opened an important research center that offers hope for those suffering from Chronic Lyme Disease.

This center will address the problem that so many Lyme Disease patients suffer from of lingering serious symptoms for months or even years after finishing the initial antibiotic treatment. They will seek to find both the cause and cure for these patients.

For so long, patients who suffer from symptoms after completing their antibiotic treatment have met with at the least skepticism from their doctors and at worst an outright rebuff while they continue to suffer. This research center offers hope for a future when Chronic Lyme Disease is a thing of the past.

Fundamental research into the causes and cures of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome now has its first home base at a major U.S. medical research center with the launch of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center earlier this month.

The center, supported by a major gift from the Lyme Disease Research Foundation, plans an ambitious research program targeting this increasingly common disease, which costs the U.S. economy up to $1.3 billion per year in treatment costs alone. “If you live anywhere from Maine to Virginia, it’s almost impossible for Lyme disease not to affect someone you know, someone in your family or yourself,” says center founder and director John Aucott, a Johns Hopkins internist.

“This syndrome is not fatal, but it is life-altering,” says Aucott. “People who come down with Lyme disease are active people who have the bad luck to be bitten by an infected tick while they’re out hiking, camping, or mowing the grass. It can happen to anyone anywhere there are trees, deer, and the ticks that they carry.”

Known as SLICE (Study of Lyme Disease Immunology and Clinical Events), the study aims to understand why some patients develop post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome lasting months or years, while others do not.- via The Hub

New Test Offers Hope of Medications to Prevent Chronic Lyme Disease

A new test allows researchers to test existing antibiotics and how effective they are at killing the persistent bugs left after the normal course of antibiotics for Lyme Disease is complete. The discussion below explains this discovery and its wide-reaching promise.

Once researchers find which antibiotics actually kill the bugs which are immune to the normal treatment for Lyme, patients who need it will be able to receive treatment that will rid their bodies of these harmful bacteria so they can fully recover.

Research is ongoing and treatment is not yet available, but hope is alive for the future.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have developed a test they say will allow them to test thousands of FDA-approved drugs to see if they will work against the bacteria that causes tick-borne Lyme disease.

Study leader Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, a professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, and his colleagues tweaked a test typically used for simply counting DNA in samples in the lab.

Using the test, they were able to quantify how many Borrelia burgdorferi are alive and how many are dead after each drug was added to the bacteria. The method stains the living bacteria green and the dead or dying bacteria red in a way that filters out the noise that can corrupt existing tests.

The new drugs identified by Zhang’s assay appear to specifically target these persisters in the lab. The question remains as to whether they will do the same thing in humans. Some doctors are considering prescribing the drugs off-label for persistent Lyme disease symptoms, even without evidence showing it will work. Zhang cautions that animal studies should be done to see if they work before they are tested in Lyme disease patients, even though these are clinically used drugs for treating other infections, as inappropriate use of antibiotics can have side effects. – via ScienceDaily

Have you seen other studies concerning new treatments for Lyme Disease?

Doctors and Rehab for Chronic Lyme Disease

Hopeful Rehab Facility for Chronic Lyme Disease Patients

Most people who are bitten by a tick and diagnosed with Lyme Disease take the course of antibiotics and recover quickly with no lingering symptoms. However, there are many patients whose symptoms linger after treatment or become worse over time.

diagnosis Lyme Disease  The symptoms can vary from joint pain to foggy thinking, dizziness or depression. The variety of symptoms is wide and the severity also varies but for all of these patients, the symptoms are real and intrusive in their lives.

Treatment options are not good since most doctors don’t take Chronic Lyme Disease seriously. Today we look at a new rehab facility that is doing cutting edge work to improve the lives of patients with Chronic Lyme Disease symptoms.

                                                      DAVID L RYAN/GLOBE STAFF

“To my knowledge, there is no other place in the country that is focused on rehabilitation of these patients,” said Dr. Brian Fallon, director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

While the science behind chronic Lyme illness continues to splinter the medical community, Spaulding, known for its care of 2013 Boston Marathon bombing patients, quietly opened its doors in June to the new Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness. Already, 52 people have been treated, and the center’s leaders say the patients, and not the politics, will remain their focus.

The center draws on an array of specialists, including brain researchers, physical and occupational therapists, infectious disease experts, and mental health counselors, to treat patients whose illness persists long after the typical course of antibiotics.

“So many doctors don’t want to acknowledge the chronic form of this disease,” said Ambrosino, who estimates she visited 30 specialists and underwent 150 blood tests searching for answers before coming to Spaulding. “I live 24/7 in this varying state of unwellness.”…

Health insurance companies have covered most services at Spaulding for the first batch of post-treatment Lyme patients, the doctors said. But there is one service that will be offered free of charge — mental health counseling. That was the wish of Brandi and Chris Dean, whose donation allowed Spaulding to launch the center bearing their name.

Brandi Dean, a 38-year-old Wellesley mother, was diagnosed with Lyme in 2011. But Dean said she was treated horribly by many doctors who dismissed her vertigo, confusion, strange weakness, and heart palpitations as anxiety because she had just given birth to her second son.

“My experience was so traumatic, having been told by so many doctors there was nothing wrong with me, I needed to talk to someone about what I was going through,” Dean said.

The Dean Center will also support research, including a pilot study enrolling 20 people to test whether use of a mild electrical current in the brain might improve the thinking problems, fatigue, and pain experienced by so many post-treatment Lyme patients. Spaulding already uses this treatment for some patients recovering from strokes and brain injuries.

Spaulding’s focus on rehabilitation is sorely needed, said Fallon of Columbia University. Johns Hopkins Medicine in May also opened a center to study post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, but it concentrates on research, not treatments. – via

This Doctor Treats Patients With Chronic Lyme Disease

Chronic Lyme Disease is a topic full of controversy in the medical community. Most doctors believe it is not a condition associated with Lyme Disease at all.

Other doctors like Dr. Daniel Cameron, MD featured in the second half of today’s post understands the severity and reality of the symptoms patients suffer with after being treated with the standard course of antibiotics for Lyme Disease.

His approach and discussion of the position of most of the medical community is enlightened and refreshing. Let’s hope more doctors pay attention to this very serious and real condition.

Minds are like parachutes. They only function when open.” This particular quote by Thomas Dewar came to mind after reading an article, Chronic Lyme Disease in the June issue of Infectious Disease Clinics of North America.

In it, the author writes, “the scientific community has largely rejected chronic, treatment-refractory Borrelia burgdorferi infection.” This is based on “the failure to detect cultivatable, clinically relevant organisms after standard treatment.”

The intention of the Chronic Lyme Disease article is evident — convince readers that chronic Lyme disease does not exist, and that antibiotics prescribed for more than 14- to 28-days are of no benefit and most patients have no lingering symptoms.

It is particularly troublesome that the author, Paul Lantos, MD, a Duke University Medical Center researcher, is co-chair on a panel responsible for updating the Infectious Disease Society of America’s (IDSA) treatment guidelines for Lyme disease. Dr. Lantos holds a position not to be taken lightly. The IDSA recommendations will determine, for the most part, the types of treatment patients diagnosed with Lyme disease will receive.

When dealing with complex, chronic illnesses, physicians need to develop a trusting and understanding relationship with their patients. It is impossible for a clinician to provide the highest level of care to their patients, which includes a thorough evaluation, if they enter into the doctor-patient relationship with preconceived notions, not only about an extremely complex disease but about the patient who is reporting the symptoms, which are often subjective.

Should the patient not have any of the three objective signs of Lyme disease — the bulls-eye rash, swollen knee and/or Bell’s Palsy, identifying the infection is dependent on a strong evaluation. Patients want physicians to provide effective treatments. They don’t want to be ‘managed.’ – via Daniel Cameron MD

Do you know anyone suffering from symptoms of lingering Lyme Disease?