Skip to main content

Mayo: More than one kind of bacteria cause Lyme disease

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Research on Lyme disease conducted at Mayo Clinic shows there are two types of bacteria that can cause it.

Scientists had long known of only one bacterium that spread the disease, which is transmitted to humans by deer ticks.

But in separate announcements Monday both Mayo and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said research at the clinic in Rochester has discovered a second one.

First spotted in 2013, the newly discovered bacterium has appeared in only six patients out of 9,000 Lyme disease cases since then. All six lived in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or North Dakota, Mayo says.

As National Public Radio reports, scientists say both of the bacteria are carried by the deer tick (also known as the black legged tick). Patients infected with the newer bacterium (Borrelia mayonii) have symptoms only slightly different than those with the original one (Borrelia burgdorferi).

Rashes develop, but they are not in the bulls-eye pattern associated with the more common bacterium. Also, the symptoms include nausea and vomiting as well as fever, headache, neck pain, and arthritis.

The newer version is rare: researchers say only three percent of the deer ticks they tested had that bacterium, whereas the more familiar one was present in 30 to 40 percent of deer ticks. Both can be treated with anitbiotics.

Mayo's lead researcher on the study (published in The Lancet) was Dr. Bobbi Pritt. She tells NPR "It just seems like every time you turn around there's a new tick-borne disease. So, when people go outside, I think they have to think about protecting themselves from ticks."

That's best done by avoiding tick-infested areas, by using repellent, and by removing ticks as soon as possible, the CDC says.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 4.04.40 PM

Ramen bar announced for upcoming Eat Street Crossing food hall

The restaurant roster is filling up at Eat Street Crossing.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Man dies after being shot during argument in Minneapolis

It's the 70th homicide in Minneapolis this year.


Minneapolis police, city employees clear out Near North encampment

This comes as colder weather moves through the state.

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 4.32.46 PM

New T.J. Maxx to open in the Twin Cities this month

Opening day will kick off with extended hours.

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 3.04.24 PM

Former Hennepin County commissioner arrested for DWI

The 61-year-old was being held in Hennepin County Jail as of Thursday morning.

Evie Carshare

Electric carshare network showing growth in Twin Cities

Over 25,000 trips have been logged in a six-month span.

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 1.11.01 PM

Popular Apple Valley ice arena could be replaced

A concept plan to transform the ice arena is being considered.


Low river levels bring cancellations for St. Paul-New Orleans Viking cruises

The low water also impacted some barge traffic making its way down the river.

10.6 Tempest Weather Thumbnail

Drought tightens grip as Twin Cities reaches 'extreme' level

By this time last year, drought was fading fast in Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 11.23.49 AM

Woman missing since car crash has been found

The 49-year-old is believed to have been driving when the crash happened.