The bacteria that cause Lyme disease, one of the most important emerging diseases in the United States, appear to hide out in the lymph nodes, triggering a significant immune response, but one that is not strong enough to rout the infection, report researchers at the University of California, Davis.
Results from this groundbreaking study involving mice may explain why some people experience repeated infections of Lyme disease. The study appears online in the journal Public Library of Science Biology at: http://tinyurl.com/3vs8pm9.
"Our findings suggest for the first time that Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease in people, dogs and wildlife, have developed a novel strategy for subverting the immune response of the animals they infect," said Professor Nicole Baumgarth, an authority on immune responses at the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine.
"At first it seems counter intuitive that an infectious organism would choose to migrate to the lymph nodes where it would automatically trigger an immune response in the host animal," Baumgarth said. "But B. burgdorferi have apparently struck an intricate balance that allows the bacteria to both provoke and elude the animal's immune response."
About Lyme disease
Lyme disease, the most important tick-borne disease in the United States is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, corkscrew-shaped bacteria also known as spirochetes. The disease is transmitted to humans and animals through bites from infected deer ticks.
The disease occurs mainly in the Northeastern and Great Lakes states, and is present to a lesser extent in Northern California. However, the western black-legged tick, the main carrier of Lyme disease in the western United States, has been found in 56 of California's 58 counties, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Symptoms of Lyme disease are quite variable and may
|Contact: Patricia Bailey|
University of California - Davis