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David Plaut: Off the Cuff

Blacklegged Nymphs

Published January 14, 2014 4:09 PM by David Plaut

In 2009, Diaz (1) remarked that "both Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are endemic in Louisiana and the Gulf South." In 2012 Stromdahl and Hickling (2)  noted that "publications on tick-pathogen systems in the south-eastern United States are primarily at risk from emerging diseases caused by tick-borne pathogens other than B. burgdorferi.

Wendy Orent, in an article titled Southern Gothic: The Confounding Debate Over Lyme Disease in the South, wrote that "many Lyme researchers, including some from the NIH and the CDC, won't believe a word of it. There is little or no true Lyme Disease anywhere in the South."

Thus the question, "If there is Lyme or one like it, what is spreading it, as it is most likely not blacklegged nymphs (Ixodes scaprlaris). It appears that the most likely culprit is the Amblyomma americanum  or the lone star tick.  Since few researchers think that the lone star tick transmits Lyme Borrelia, the disease in the South is called STARI, for Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness.  At this point, the cause of STARI is unknown.

This is not simply an argument among researchers, but the many patients who insist that they have Lyme disease or something very much like it.  But they continue that they are treated late if at all and thus are sliding into an untreated chronic syndrome as are many Lyme disease patients in the North.


  1. J La State Med Soc. 2009 Nov-Dec;161(6):325-6, 328, 330-1 passim.
  2. Zoonoses Public Health. 2012 Sep;59 Suppl 2:48-64
posted by David Plaut


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