Webster defines biomarker as “a distinctive biological or biologically derived indicator of a process, event, or condition (such as aging, disease, or oil formation).” Wikipedia calls it a measurable indicator of a biological state or condition. So simply stated for our purposes, a biomarker is something that can be measured and used to detect illness. What does that have to do with Lyme disease? A new study says maybe something significant.
In the US, Lyme disease is the most reported of all vector-borne illnesses. However, the symptoms can be similar to others. Professor John Belisle of Colorado State University’s Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology department, along with a team that includes scientists from the CDC have published a study in Science Translational Medicine concerning the biomarkers present in Lyme Disease and Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI).
Lyme and STARI share many of the same symptoms: rash, fatigue, fever, headache, muscle pains. Because the pathogen that causes STARI is unknown and it is difficult to detect Lyme in the early weeks, they can be confused. Different types of ticks carry each disease,(deer ticks transmit Lyme, and Lonestar ticks transmit STARI) but the geography of where ticks live is changing, so testing needs to get specific and accurate, fast.
In Belisle’s test, they were able to identify biomarkers of metabolic differences in the illnesses. They were then able to identify Lyme vs. STARI at a 98% rate of accuracy.
Why are Lyme Biomarkers a Key Breakthrough?
Lyme disease needs to be determined quickly. The longer it goes untreated, the worse the symptoms can become. It can lead to inflammation of the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis) which can lead to permanent nerve issues. However, with early detection, most Lyme can be successfully treated with antibiotics in a few short weeks. The ability to test for the biomarker could mean improved accuracy and early detection of Lyme disease.
Diagnosing Lyme Disease
This group hopes to continue studies that move from research labs to human study and include how patients respond to treatment. In 2015, Massachusetts was one of the 14 states that reported 95% of the confirmed Lyme disease cases in the US. It is that number that makes this study important to us here at Mosquito Squad of Southeastern Massachusetts. It can’t be said enough that early detection is so important when it comes to Lyme disease and this study of biomarkers seems to be a path to making that easier. At Mosquito Squad we would also like to help you eliminate the ticks in your yard in efforts to avoid Lyme Disease instead of detecting it. Our barrier spray treatments and tick tube systems help to protect your family and pets by eliminating 85-90% of existing ticks in your yard. Call us today and let’s plan your first tick treatment!