Saturday, 15 October 2016


The Internet has been a buzz recently with the news that Willy Burgdorfer found patients with Lyme disease their blood showed a strong reaction for the Swiss Agent ( Rickettsia Helvetica)

The ‘Swiss Agent’: Long-forgotten research unearths new mystery about Lyme disease

'At a government lab in Montana, Willy Burgdorfer typed a letter to a colleague, reporting that blood from Lyme patients showed “very strong reactions” on a test for an obscure, tick-borne bacterium. He called it the “Swiss Agent.”
Now STAT has obtained those documents, including some discovered in boxes of Burgdorfer’s personal papers found in his garage after his death in 2014. The papers — including letters to collaborators, lab records, and blood test results — indicate that the Swiss Agent was infecting people in Connecticut and Long Island in the late 1970s.'
'On the top of a stack of documents in his garage was a mysterious note, penned boldly in red ink in the scientist’s unmistakable handwriting. “I wondered why somebody didn’t do something,” it said. “Then I realized that I am somebody.”'
The STAT article can be read at this link:-
'The STAT article reports that both Jorge Benach and Allen Steere now say it is time to take a closer look at Rickettsia helvetica’s role in Lyme disease. Benach says the research “should be done” because public health concerns warrant a closer look.
For patients, looking into pathogenic factors related to persistence in tick-borne disease is long overdue. The failure to note the existence of the Swiss agent along with Borrelia burgdorferi is bacteria in the initial publication about Lyme disease may have set back progress in understanding the pathogenicity of Lyme disease decades.' From Lyme Policy Wonk :-

An interesting angle is that from Lyme MD

In 2011 this was published:-

First detection of spotted fever group rickettsiae in Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus ticks in the UK. 

Tijsse-Klasen EJameson LJFonville MLeach SSprong HMedlock JM.


A preliminary study was conducted to determine the presence of spotted fever rickettsiae in two species of British tick (Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus). The 16S rRNA gene of Rickettsia spp. was detected in 39/401 (9·7%) of ticks tested, including 22/338 (6·5%) I. ricinus and 17/63 (27%) D. reticulatus. Some positive I. ricinus samples showed 100% homology with Rickettsia helvetica (10/22), and most positive D. reticulatus showed 100% homology with R. raoultii (13/17). Five other Rickettsia spp. were detected exhibiting 96-99% homology. Ticks positive for rickettsiae were collected from various hosts and from vegetation from eight counties across Great Britain. The distribution of R. helvetica in various engorged and unfed stages of I. ricinus suggests that R. helvetica is widespread. R. raoultii was found in questing adult D. reticulatus in Wales and England. This is the first evidence of potentially pathogenic spotted fever rickettsiae in British ticks.

This study suggests the Swiss Agent ( Rickettsia Helvetica ) is widespread in the UK. More research is required to find out what role this infection is having on people sick in the UK following a tick bite. 

No comments:

Post a Comment