Occupational Health & Safety

13 Genomes of Lyme Disease Bacteria Strains Sequenced

They will give a more complete picture of the scope of natural variations in the bacteria and the disease they cause, according to NIH.

Scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health have published a paper on their research that sequenced genetic blueprints for 13 different strains of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Lyme is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in the United States, with nearly 28,921 cases of Lyme disease reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008.

The first genome of a strain of B. burgdorferi was sequenced more than 10 years ago. The 13 strains reported in the American Society for Microbiology's Journal of Bacteriology (the paper's title is "Whole Genome Sequences of Thirteen Isolates of Borrelia burgdorferi") were isolated from human beings and ticks from different locales. They give a more complete picture of the scope of natural variations in the microbe and the disease it causes, according to NIH, which said the sequencing and analysis were led by Claire M. Fraser-Liggett, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and performed at a Microbial Sequencing Center funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The research project was initiated by Steven E. Schutzer, M.D., of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, an NIAID grantee.

Additional support was provided by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Center for Research Resources,

According to CDC, outdoor workers in Construction, landscaping, forestry, surveying, farming, railroad work, oilfield work, and utilities may be at risk for contracting Lyme disease. Workers in the northeastern and north-central United States are at highest risk of exposure to infected ticks. Outdoor workers should protect themselves in the late spring and summer when young ticks are most active, the agency advises.

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