Monday, March 25, 2013

Weird Way Lyme Disease Bugs Avoid Immune System

A cluster of Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which causes Lyme disease. Humans catch it when bitten by ticks. These bacteria belong to a group called spirochetes, which resemble coiled springs. 


The bacterium that causes Lyme Disease substitutes manganese for iron in its diet, a new study finds. The pathogen is the first known organism to live without iron.  

This talent helps the pathogen evade the immune system, which often acts against foreign invaders by starving them of iron.

Lyme disease is transmitted by tick bites and can cause fever, fatigue, headaches and rashes. If not treated promptly with antibiotics, the disease can start to attack the circulatory and central nervous systems, causing shooting pains and numbness as well as cognitive difficulties.

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