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Researchers to study lyme-like illness in Texas
Date:8/15/2008

Tao Lin, D.V.M., and Steven J. Norris, Ph.D., both with the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, have been named grant recipients of the Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program (ARP) by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. They will receive $150,000 over two years to support their research into conflicting reports about the infectious nature and causative agent of Southern-Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI) in Texas and other southern states.

Tick-transmitted Lyme disease is a bacterial infection common in northeastern, north central, mid-Atlantic seaboard and Pacific coastal states. In 2006, 19,931 cases of Lyme disease were reported yielding a national average of 8.2 cases per 100,000 persons, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Typical Lyme disease symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.

Patients with STARI, a condition found in southeastern and south central U.S., have a bullseye-shaped rash that is virtually identical to the erythema migrans lesion of Lyme disease. However, no one has been able to detect the spiral-shaped bacteria that cause Lyme disease (called Borrelia burgdorferi) in patients, animals or ticks from Texas or nearby states.

In this project, Lin and Norris will apply innovative approaches to identify organisms associated with STARI in Texas and other states within the south central United States. They will use techniques such as DNA amplification methods, high throughput DNA sequencing and novel culture media and conditions in an attempt to identify and culture Borrelia from ticks and patients' tissues. These approaches are aimed at identifying the organism(s) causing STARI in Texas and may permit the design of specific diagnostic tests and effective therapies, thus r
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Contact: Robert Cahill
Robert.Cahill@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3042
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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