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Deer tick bacteria DNA in joint fluid not reliable marker of active lyme arthritis
Date:5/16/2011

New research shows that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for Borrelia burgdorferi DNAthe spirochetal bacteria transmitted by deer ticksin joint fluid may confirm the diagnosis of Lyme arthritis, but is not a reliable indicator for active joint infection in patients whose arthritis persists after antibiotic therapy. Findings of this study are published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

Lyme disease is caused by the B. burgdorferi bacteria, which is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, commonly known as the deer tick. The characteristic erythema migrans skin rashresembling a bull's-eye markis often the first sign of infection, along with symptoms such as headache, fever, and fatigue. Surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report more than 30,000 new cases of Lyme disease each summer in the U.S., with 93% of cases occurring in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. If left untreated, roughly 60% of patients will develop Lyme arthritis, which commonly affects the knee.

"Currently, the primary use for PCR testing in Lyme disease is to establish if active infection remains in patients with persistent arthritis following antibiotic therapy," said Allen Steere, M.D., Director of Clinical Research, Rheumatology Unit, at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Our study goal was to determine the B. burgdorferi burden and viability in skin and joints of patients with Lyme disease." Researchers used PCR techniques to detect the deer tick bacteria DNA in skin samples of 90 patients with confirmed Lyme disease and in joint fluid or synovial tissue samples from 63 patients with Lyme arthritis, 23 who were responsive to antibiotics and 40 with antibiotic-refractory arthritis. In addition, both bacterial DNA and RNA
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Contact: Dawn Peters
healthnews@wiley.com
781-388-8408
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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