Marshfield Medical Center-River Region at Stevens Point is located at 4100 Hwy. 66. (Metro Wire photo)

Patients sought for study on Lyme disease, tick-borne infections

Metro Wire Staff

With tick season in full swing, people in northern Wisconsin who have been bitten recently by a tick and have developed symptoms consistent with Lyme disease or other tick-borne infections are encouraged to participate in research efforts to accelerate medical breakthroughs in the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of these diseases.

Participants, including people experiencing symptoms of early-stage Lyme disease, are asked to donate a small sample of blood and urine and fill out forms reporting their symptoms. These will become part of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Lyme Disease Biobank, which provides biological samples to researchers exploring potential new diagnostics and treatments for this devastating disease. The Biobank is already supporting more than 70 research projects, based on samples from its 1,000 participants thus far.

Marshfield Clinic Research Institute is collaborating with the Lyme Disease Biobank, a program of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research, to add patients to the Biobank. The Research Institute, which is part of Marshfield Clinic Health System, is one of nine health care organizations participating in the Biobank, and the only one in Wisconsin with collection locations in Eau Claire, Lake Hallie, Marshfield, Minocqua, Wausau, and Weston.

“Ticks are a common part of life in Wisconsin, and unfortunately, we are at a higher risk of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease,” said Anna Schotthoefer, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute project scientist. “By participating in trials and providing material for the Lyme Disease Biobank, we can learn more about tick-borne infections and become better at diagnosing and treating them.”

As the most common vector-borne infectious disease in the country, Lyme disease is a potentially disabling infection caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick to people and pets. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated, but it may be missed in the early stage due to lack of awareness and unreliable diagnostic tests. There are approximately 500,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to recent statistics released by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, more than one million Americans may be suffering from the impact of its debilitating long-term symptoms and complications, according to Bay Area Lyme Foundation estimates.

“Marshfield Clinic Health System plays a critical role in enabling tick-borne disease research across the country and we are grateful for their participation in our Lyme Disease Biobank,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “Donations of blood and urine samples collected from Wisconsin residents are being used by researchers exploring potential new diagnostics and treatments for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. We hope these efforts will one day help make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.”

Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is the leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the U.S. A 501(c)3 charity based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme Foundation collaborates with world-class scientists and institutions to accelerate medical breakthroughs for Lyme disease. It is also dedicated to providing reliable, fact-based information so that prevention and the importance of early treatment are common knowledge. A pivotal donation from The LaureL STEM Fund covers overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs. For more information about Lyme disease, visit www.bayarealyme.org.

To sign up for the study or to find out if you qualify, call Lisa Kauffman at 715-389-5738.