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Published On: Thu, Nov 1st, 2012

University of Zurich microbiologists confirm the existence of another tick disease in Switzerland – neoehrlichiosis

Microbiologists from the University of Zurich have detected a new disease transmitted via tick bites, and thanks to a newly developed PCR test, the bacterial infection can be detected within a day, according to a University of Zurich press release (translated) Oct. 31.

Tick

Public domain image/Richard Bartz via Wikimedia Commons

University microbiologists say that the new tick borne disease, neoehrlichiosis, is the third found in Switzerland- borreliosis and the early-summer-meningoencephalitis virus being the other two.

The findings of the Swiss, Swedish and German researchers can be found in their article, “Close geographic association of human neoehrlichiosis and tick populations carrying Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis in Eastern Switzerland”, in latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

According to the release:

The pathogenic bacteria Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis was first discovered in ticks and rodents in Europe and Asia in 1999. In 2010, Head of Molecular Diagnostics at the Institute of Medical Microbiology Guido Bloemberg and colleagues from Sweden and Germany diagnosed the world’s first infections in humans and dubbed the disease “neoehrlichiosis”, by detection of the bacterium in the patients blood. Two more cases were identified at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Medical Microbiology between October 2011 and January 2012. So far, a total of eight patients have been described in Europe, three of whom come from the Zurich area. They suffered from relapsing fevers of up to 40 degrees, weight loss and general malaise.

Bloemberg’s team studied around 2,000 ticks from the neighborhood of the three Swiss patients, who often spent time in forests and fields. The result: A large number of ticks in the Zurich area – five to ten percent – carry Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis. “Our study shows that the greater Zurich region is a risk area for neoehrlichiosis, especially for immunocompromised people,” explains Florian Maurer from the University of Zurich’s Institute of Medical Microbiology. 

“Because the bacteria that cause neoehrlichiosis couldn’t be bred in the lab until now and thus no rapid tests were available, many infections might have remained undetected,” says Guido Bloemberg. However, help is now at hand with the new DNA test the researchers have developed: It can detect an infection definitively within one working day and also be used for larger test series.

The Swiss patients could be cured fully with a course of antibiotics. Within only a few weeks of beginning the treatment, the microorganism responsible could no longer be detected in their blood.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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