Puutiaisten välittämiä tauteja tutkivan eläinlääkäri/tutkija Breitswerdtin mukaan useiden sairauksien taustalta, kuten krooninen väsymysoireyhtymä, migreeni, MS-tauti jne, löytyy hyönteisten välityksellä ihmiseen tarttuva taudinaiheuttaja esim. bartonellabakteeri. "Kyseessä on hiljainen epidemia". Bartonella aiheuttaa turvotusta imusolmukkeissa, kuumetta, väsymystä, päänsärkyä jne. Bartonellaa löydetään eri eläinlajeista, esim. kissa, koira, lehmä, jänis jne. Eläimet saavat tartunnan elimistöönsä useiden eri hyönteisten välityksellä. Ihminen saa taudin esim. kissojen syljen/raapaisun välityksellä. Kissat saavat tartunnan esim. kirpuista ja puutiaisista.
Tutkimusmäärärahoja kohdennetaan tällä hetkellä vinoutuneesti, esim. USA:ssa Länsi-Niilin virukseen sairastui viime vuonna vain n. 3600 henkilöä, mutta tutkimukseen annettiin 80 miljoonaa dollaria. Borrelioosiin sairastuneita on vuosittain vähintään 30 000, mutta tutkimukseen annettiin vain 29 miljoonaa dollaria.
In bacteria, vet sees key to human ills
Sarah Avery - Staff Writer
Published: Sun, Dec. 14, 2008
A notion struck Betsy Sigmon on the way to the hospital to tend to her 13-year-old son Jason. The youngster, who was admitted after suffering weeks of excruciating headaches, had been bitten by a tick days before he grew sick. While blood tests showed no hint of a tick-borne infection, the idea nagged at her.
So Sigmon called Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt, a veterinary researcher at N.C. State University. Sigmon, herself a vet, knew Breitschwerdt studied tick-borne diseases.
"Do you know of any kind of infectious agent that might be causing Jason's symptoms?" Sigmon recalls asking Breitschwerdt.
In reaching out to Breitschwerdt, Sigmon turned to a man who may know a hidden cause behind many chronic human ailments that often aren't recognized as infections transmitted by animals and insects.
With the right diagnosis using a process he patented, Breitschwerdt says, many could be easily cured with antibiotics.
Medical doctors have been slow to listen to a veterinarian about how to treat humans, but promising results are helping Breitschwerdt's views gain acceptance. Antibiotic treatment has cured people of pain and weakness doctors originally attributed to migraines, chronic fatigue and even multiple sclerosis.
At the heart of Breitschwerdt's research is a pathogen carried by insects -- a bacteria known as Bartonella. Spread by biting pests such as fleas, lice, sandflies and possibly ticks, Bartonella are difficult to detect in human blood. As a result, Breitschwerdt thinks the bacteria are taking an unacknowledged toll on human health.
"I believe it's a silent epidemic," says Breitschwerdt, who is also an adjunct professor in infectious diseases at Duke University Medical School.
His belief is based on his own patients -- the cats, dogs, rabbits, cows and other animals that harbor Bartonella in their blood. With so many insects spreading the bacteria to so many animals, he contends, the bugs are certain to readily infect humans.
Breitschwerdt suspected a Bartonella infection was behind Jason Sigmon's headaches. He urged Betsy Sigmon to ask the hospital staff at WakeMed to draw an extra vial of the youngster's blood for him to test. Using a technique he patented and special equipment in his lab at N.C. State, Breitschwerdt went on the hunt for Bartonella.
As bugs go, Bartonella species are fairly recent entries on the list of known infectious germs. Bartonella was first noted as the culprit behind a severe fever illness that explorers picked up in Peru from sandfly bites. Then in World War I, a strain was identified as the cause of trench fever, which sickened thousands of soldiers who caught it from body lice that spread in the cramped, filthy conditions of war.
Thereafter, doctors figured Bartonella was a pathogen isolated by geography or limited to decrepit conditions.
That began to change in the early 1990s, however, when scientists determined that a Bartonella infection caused skin lesions on AIDS patients and among homeless people in the United States.
About the same time, another species of the bacteria was identified as the source of cat scratch disease. The illness, which afflicts about 22,000 people a year in the United States, had previously been attributed to another pathogen.
Marked by swollen lymph nodes, fever and general malaise, the disease occurs after contact with a Bartonella-infected cat. And those are legion. About half of cats in flea-prone regions harbor the bacteria at some point in their lives, spreading it through their saliva and in fleas. In fact, it gets on cats' claws because they scratch at the fleas, raking up the germ from the fleas' feces.
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RESEARCH MONEY LAGS
Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt at N.C. State says research funding is hard to come by -- a problem for many tick-borne diseases.
For example, Lyme disease affects nearly 30,000 people a year, including 52 last year in North Carolina. But funding for research into Lyme and other tick-borne diseases is just $29 million a year, said Pat Smith, president of the Lyme Disease Association, a Connecticut-based group that funds research and promotes education in tick-borne diseases.
By comparison, Smith says, the government is spending $80 million a year researching West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness that infected just 3,600 people in the United States last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"It's just outrageous," Smith says, noting that researchers such as Breitschwerdt are finding a growing family of Bartonella that could easily demonstrate a widespread infection. "Some people don't even recognize that Bartonella is tick-borne."
MAJOR TICK DISEASES IN THE UNITED STATES
CAUSE: The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, transmitted by infected black-legged ticks
SYMPTOMS: Fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.
TREATMENT: Antibiotics over a few weeks; a second round of therapy is recommended in a persistent infection.
INCIDENCE: 27,444 cases in the United States in 2007
ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER
CAUSE: The bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii, carried by the American dog tick and the Rocky Mountain wood tick
SYMPTOMS: Early signs include fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite and severe headache. Later symptoms include rash, abdominal pain, joint pain and diarrhea.
TREATMENT: Can be a severe illness and even deadly without antibiotic treatment.
INCIDENCE: Between 250 and 1,200 cases a year in the United States
STARI, OR SOUTHERN TICK-ASSOCIATED RASH ILLNESS
CAUSE: Ticks carrying an unknown pathogen
SYMPTOMS: A rash similar to that of Lyme disease after bites from the lone star tick. The rash may be accompanied by fatigue, fever, headache and muscle and joint pains.
INCIDENCE: Not reported
CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION