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Lyme disease vector ticks abundant in beach areas?

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In the United States and more particularly in California, a study shows the presence of ticks in beach areas. However, these usually live in forest areas. This presence is of concern, as these ticks are potentially cable to transmit the Lyme disease.

Far from their favorite habitat

Lyme disease often appears without symptoms, but is sometimes disabling. These include, among other things, lasting joint pain, partial paralysis of the limbs and sometimes even heart attacks. This disease is transmitted during the bite of a tick previously infected with a bacterium of the family of Spirochetals. Each year, the disease affects approximately 250,000 people in Europe and 300,000 in the United States.

The Bay Area Lyme Foundation published a study in the journal Applied and environmental microbiology on April 23, 2021. Researchers from several US universities have found ticks Ixodes pacificus adults carrying Borrelia burgdorferi – bacteria responsible for Lyme disease – in beach areas in California.

The fact is that the rate of presence of these ticks on beach areas is equivalent to that of their usual places of life. Indeed, the species is generally confined to woods and forests of the pacific zone the United States. In California, these ticks tend to live in certain wooded areas in the northwest of the state.

The Ixodes pacificus tick
Credit: CDC

Adjust information to the population

“The high rate of disease-carrying ticks in coastal areas really surprised us. And by looking at all tick-borne pathogens simultaneously, it seems we need to rethink disease risks at the local level ”, Daniel Salkeld, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

For researchers, the study demonstrates the need to better inform the population as a whole on the risks of tick-borne diseases. It is also a matter of updating this same information for healthcare providers.

In August 2020, we discussed the work of a French laboratory (Valneva), based in Nantes. For a decade, researchers have been trying to develop a vaccine against Lyme disease. For the time being, the progress of research makes it possible to foresee a commercialization for 2025. According to the latest news, phase 2 of the tests has been launched, involving 800 people. Then, phase 3 will integrate 16,000 volunteers both in Europe and in the United States. The point is that bacteria are not the same on the two continents, so there is talk of a regionality of the bacteria.


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