A new strain of Borrelia bacterium is making its way to Denmark is making it difficult to offer up a timely diagnosis that a victim has been bitten by a tick and could have contracted Lyme disease.
Usually, when a tick becomes imbedded in the skin, a red rash makes it easy to diagnose that a patient could have Lyme disease. Early diagnosis helps prevent encephalitis and paralysis, some of the possible side-effects of Lyme disease. The new strain does not have any of the previous symptoms.
“You do not get the warning signals that you have been infected,” Rene Bødker, an epidemiologist at DTU Veterinærinstituttet, the national veterinary institute, told DR Nyheder. “The disease could infect the brain if not treated in time.”
The newly-discovered Borrelia miyamotoi evidences completely different symptoms than previously known Borrelia bacteria.
“The new version causes causes muscle pain and a fever which lasts for a few days, disappears, and then returns about 10 days later,” said Bødker. “The symptoms can resemble any number of things and not something where a practitioner will suspect Lyme disease right away.”
Bødker reminded people to check for ticks when they return in from outdoors.
It is not known whether any Danes have been infected with the new bacterium, but Bødker believes that it has happened without being reported.
“We estimate that 1 out of every 200 ticks in Denmark carry this infection, so there must be Danes who have been infected and become seriously ill,” he said. “Once in the system an diagnosed with Lyme disease, there are no details as to which type it might be.”
Researchers have found ticks carrying the new strain of Lyme disease throughout Denmark.