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Yet Another Tick-Borne Illness Emerges in U.S.
Date:8/30/2012

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have identified a new tick-borne illness in the United States -- which hospitalized two men in Missouri -- adding to the steadily creeping number of diseases known to be transmitted by various species of the seed-sized parasites.

In a new study, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the new "phlebovirus," a distant cousin to one recently identified in China, was likely carried on the lone star tick and caused severe symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headache, diarrhea, weight loss and low blood-cell counts.

Experts aren't sure whether more tick-borne illnesses are emerging or whether having better tests to identify them account for the increase observed. In addition to the well-known Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, other conditions passed by ticks in the United States include babesiosis, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis. All cause similar flu-like symptoms and can be fatal in extreme cases.

"This is a unique virus that's never before been seen . . . [though] I'm sure it's been around for some time and we didn't know about it," said study co-author William Nicholson, chief of pathogen biology and disease ecology activity at the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. "It's very likely that other people have had this, but we don't know the true public health impact at this point."

The study is published Aug. 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Both phlebovirus patients from northwestern Missouri, ages 57 and 67, lived on farms and were hospitalized for extended periods in 2009 after noticing tick bites and developing symptoms. Doctors originally suspected ehrlichiosis, but sophisticated blood tests and genome sequencing done by the CDC revealed the novel virus. The men, who were treated with antibiotics, recovered but deal
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