Source: Georgia Lyme Disease Association
Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto?
Check. 50+ Bbss strains documented by Georgia Southern University’s Dr. Jim Oliver.
In fact, Lyme disease bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) have been documented in THOUSANDS of tick and animal specimens and in many humans from across the South in published studies spanning more than two decades. More importantly, more Lyme disease bacteria species and strains have been documented in the Southeastern United States than in any other region of the country (see our website NEWS page for details). The fact that there are more numerous and varied Bb strains in the South, suggests to scientists that Lyme disease bacteria were actually in the Southern United States first, giving the bacteria time to diversify into so many different species and strains, before moving North.
Competent Animal Reservoir in the South?
Check. The cotton mouse, cotton rat and wood rat are all competent reservoirs for Borrelia burgdorferi. The white-footed mouse is also found in some areas. Gray squirrels, chipmunks and shrews are now being investigated as reservoirs, as well. Even birds and some lizards may be reservoirs.
Infected Ixodes scapularis, black-legged “deer” ticks?
Check. And evidence suggests these ticks moved from South to North, not that they are now “expanding their range” down to the South.
Do black-legged “deer” ticks bite humans in the South?
Check. In fall and winter months, adult Ixodes scapularis “deer” ticks feed on humans on warmer days so humans are exposed year ’round due to our warm climate.
And lest you believe that old myth, “Only nymphal ticks are attached long enough to transmit Lyme disease because bigger ticks are more easily spotted and removed quickly” …here’s an important study published in 1996:
Do People in the Southern USA Test Positive for Lyme Disease?
As in the Northern USA, western blot lab results for some Southern patients don’t meet CDC guidelines, however, they show various positive bands, some highly specific for Borrelia burgdorferi. That all Southern patients’ labs do not meet strict CDC guidelines meant for reporting purposes isn’t surprising in the least. A recent Johns Hopkins study of Lyme patients proved that current tests were unreliable in detecting a huge percentage of patients tested from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Why would Southern patients be expected to always have “CDC-reportable” lab results when Northern patients do not?