BALTIMORE, April 22 (UPI) -- Tick-borne disease infections are on the rise. And each year, it seems, researchers discover new diseases delivered by the bloodsucker's bite. Recently, doctors in Maryland and China identified a never-before-seen tick-borne disease.
Scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine partnered with researchers in China in studying blood samples from 477 patients in northeastern China who were bitten by a tick during a monthlong period in 2014.
Their analysis showed that 28 patients (6 percent) had been infected with a previously unidentified type bacteria. Scientists named the bacteria species Anaplasma capra.
"This is an entirely new species of bacteria," study author Dr. J. Stephen Dumler, a professor of pathology at Maryland, confirmed in a press release. "This had never been seen in humans before. We still have a lot to learn about this species, but it may be that this bacteria is infecting humans over a wide area."
Like other tick-bite infections, the bacteria's presence can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue, dizziness and muscle aches. Doctors were able to best the infection with antibiotics.
In the United States, the bacteria that causes the more common tick-borne disease relies on larger hosts like mice, deer and cattle. The ticks simply act as transportation and delivery vectors. Researchers believe the newly identified bacteria comes from goat populations, and is delivered by a species known as the taiga tick. The disease's scientific name is half-derived from the Latin word for goat, "capra."
In addition to China, the taiga tick can also be found in Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia, including Japan. More than a fifth of the world's population lives within the taiga tick's range.
The new disease is detailed in the latest issue of the journal Lancet Infectious Disease.