ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Zurich is home to a tick that is now recognized as Switzerland’s third tick to carry a disease, neoehrlichiosis. To date three people are known to have fallen ill, but since researchers at the University of Zurich confirmed its presence in late 2011, research has shown the tick is making its home in the woods and forests around the canton.
The University of Zurich reports that “The patients suffered from fever, weight loss and malaise, but could be cured fully with a course of antibiotics. Thanks to a newly developed test, the bacterial infection can be detected within a day. The greater Zurich region is a risk area for the new tick disease,” especially for immuno-compromised people, the research team reports.
A team led by Guido Bloemberg’s team in molecular diagnostics at the Institute of Medical Microbiology in Zurich studied some 2,000 ticks from the neighborhood of the three Swiss patients, “who often spent time in forests and fields. The result: A large number of ticks in the Zurich area – five to ten percent – carry Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis.”
The extent to which the population as a whole is at risk is not yet clear. “Within only a few weeks of beginning the treatment, the microorganism responsible could no longer be detected in their blood. ‘How well the bacterium is transmitted to humans via a bite from an infected tick, however, still needs to be researched,’ concludes Bloemberg.”
The team’s findings are published today: “Close geographic association of human neoehrlichiosis and tick populations carrying Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis in Eastern Switzerland.” Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 31 October, 2012.