Mice that are already infected with the pathogen that causes Lyme disease appear to facilitate the spread of a lesser-known but emerging disease, babesiosis, into new areas.

Black-legged tick
Ixodes scapularis, a Black-legged tick/CDC

Research led by the Yale School of Public Health and published Dec. 29 in the journal PLOS ONEused laboratory experiments, mathematical models, and fieldwork data to find that mice infected with the agent that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) are at increased risk for also transmitting Babesia microti, the pathogen responsible for babesiosis, and could be enhancing the geographic spread of this emerging disease. Both diseases are transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis).

The finding provides a possible answer as to why human babesiosis is only emerging in areas where Lyme disease is well established, said Maria Diuk-Wasser, senior author of the study, who performed the research in collaboration with Peter Krause’s and Durland Fish’s research groups while she was assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health. Diuk-Wasser, who maintains an adjunct position and active collaboration with the Yale School of Public Health, is an associate professor at Columbia University. Other study collaborators were at the Yale School of Medicine, Tufts Medical Center, and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Read the rest of the news release HERE