According to a paper published in late September, 2014, infection with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is an emerging zoonosis in Egypt. Authors El-Helw et al., collected samples from almost 100 animals, many of whom were companion animals of humans with fever of unknown origin. What these researchers found was that many of these animals had antibodies to Borrelia burgdoerfi and further evidence of the bacteria in their blood.
Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacteria that is carried by ticks and other animals and which is transmitted to humans through tick bites to cause Lyme disease. Until now, there have been no quality studies looking at the incidence of Lyme disease in Egypt, little evidence collected regarding levels of infection in animals and ticks, and no successful trials isolating B. burgdorferi in clinical samples.
As in many countries, there is a growing suspicion of the presence of Lyme disease and its effects on humans and companion animals, but the lack of understanding and awareness of this condition hinders diagnosis and treatment. This latest research involved collecting specimens from 92 animals, ticks and human companions and then using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing to detect the presence of the outer surface protein A gene of B. burgdorferi, and ELISA testing to detect antibodies to the bacteria.
Not only did the researchers find the presence of Lyme disease bacteria in Egyptian animal breeds, they also found antibodies to the bacteria in human contacts who were suffering from fever of unknown origin. The authors concluded that Lyme disease bacteria are present in the country and that Lyme disease appears to be an emerging zoonosis in Egypt, warranting further investigation and increased awareness-raising and education for citizens to reduce the risk of infection and disease.
El-Helw RA, El-Inbeaawy MI, Samir A. Lyme borreliosis: A neglected zoonosis in Egypt. Acta Trop. 2014 Sep 18. pii: S0001-706X(14)00296-4. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2014.09.005. [Epub ahead of print]