News Scan for Oct 10, 2019

Salmonella from pet turtles
NIH tick-borne disease plan
Lyme and neurologic problems

CDC: 21 sick with Salmonella in 13 states in outbreak tied to turtles

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday announced a 13-state Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak linked to pet turtles that has sickened at least 21 people.

Of the 21 patients, 7 have been hospitalized but none have died, the CDC said. Illness-onset dates vary from May 29 to Sep 3, and patients range in age from less than 1 to 80 years, with a median age of 24.

"Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicate that contact with pet turtles is the likely source of this outbreak," the CDC said. "In interviews, 12 (71%) of 17 ill people reported contact with a turtle."

California has had the most cases (6), while Illinois, New York, and Washington state have each confirmed 2. The other nine states have each had 1 case.

Turtles can carry Salmonella in their droppings while appearing healthy. The bacteria can then spread to their bodies, tank water, and habitats and also to people who contact the reptiles or their habitats. The CDC urged hand washing after contact with these pets or environs. Because of the Salmonella risk, since 1975 the sale of turtles with shells less than 4 inches long have been banned in the United States.
Oct 9 CDC notice


NIH launches strategic plan to combat tick-borne disease

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today launched a Strategic Plan for Tickborne Disease Research that focuses on five scientific priorities for advancing research and development in the next 5 years, including improved diagnosis and vaccine research.

The priorities, as spelled out in an NIH news release, are:

  1. Improving fundamental knowledge of tick-borne diseases, including transmission to humans and how they can evade human immune systems.
  2. Bolstering detection and diagnosis of tick-borne diseases, including developing rapid tests.
  3. Accelerating research designed to prevent infection, including vaccines, immune-based treatments, and strategies to reduce transmission of tick-borne pathogens to animal hosts.
  4. Advancing research to develop new treatments and methods to reduce disease complications.
  5. Improving scientists' access to biological samples and tick-borne disease genetic data, as well as supporting preclinical development of promising products.

The NIH notes that infections of tick-borne disease rose from 48,610 in 2016 to 59,349, according to CDC data. And although Lyme disease counts for about 82% of total cases, the Lyme count is likely 10 times higher. The NIH also noted new threats, such as alpha gal syndrome, which leaves patients allergic red meat.
Oct 10 NIH news release


Study finds no increased risk of neurologic conditions in Lyme patients

Patients with Lyme neuroborreliosis (LNB) do not have an increased long-term risk of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, motor neuron diseases, epilepsy, or Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), Danish researchers reported yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The team analyzed data on 2,067 patients diagnosed as having LNB, a disorder of the central nervous system in Lyme patients stemming from an infection with Borrelia bacteria, the causative agent of Lyme disease. The patients were identified from national registers and were diagnosed from 1986 through 2016. They matched the LNB patients to 20,679 Danes from the general population.

The investigators observed no long-term increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, motor neuron diseases, or epilepsy. Within the first year, however 8 LNB patients (0.4%) developed epilepsy compared with 20 (0.1%) of the comparison cohort. Also in the first year, 11 LNB patients (0.5%) patients were diagnosed as having GBS compared with none in the matched controls. GBS was not increased, however, after the first year.

The authors determined that overall, though, the LNB patients had no increased risk of any of the neurologic conditions.
Oct 9 Clin Infect Dis abstract

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