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Marshfield seeks samples for Lyme disease research

The only Midwest health care system in the national Lyme Disease Biobank, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, is looking for patients suspected to be in the early stages of Lyme disease to aid in the research of this disease that frequently infects Wisconsin residents.

There were 1,491 confirmed and 3,470 estimated cases of Lyme disease in Wisconsin in 2016, according to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. There are six times more people diagnosed with Lyme disease than HIV in the U.S.

Early Lyme disease symptoms include headaches, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, fatigue and sometimes one or more rashes. These rashes may be red and expanding, with a central clearing that may look like a bull’s-eye centered on the tick bite.

“Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection, but there are different strains found in different regions,” said Anna Schotthoefer, Lyme disease researcher at Marshfield. “To better understand these differences and Lyme disease specifically in Wisconsin, we are participating in the Lyme Disease Biobank to help find better ways to diagnose and treat the disease.”

Schotthoefer and other Marshfield research scientists are experts in Lyme disease in the Midwest. The clinic’s participation in the Lyme Disease Biobank, which started in 2016, continues to increase the number of quality samples to enable research efforts and accelerate medical breakthroughs.

The Lyme Disease Biobank is the first and only program collecting blood and urine samples of people with early Lyme disease in multiple regions across the country, including the East Coast, Wisconsin and California.

“Collecting samples for Lyme disease research is the first step in simplifying care for the many patients that are diagnosed with this disease that can be debilitating if left untreated,” Schotthoefer said.

Patients ages 10 and older who present to a health care provider with untreated (less than 48 hours), early Lyme disease with a rash; as well as individuals who present with suspected, untreated (less than 48 hours) Lyme disease without a rash, will be eligible for participation. Participants will be expected to submit blood and urine samples for the research program, and will be compensated for participating.

The Lyme Disease Biobank has recently released the first samples to researchers. To potentially submit a sample or to learn more about Lyme Disease Biobank efforts at Marshfield, call (715) 389-5738.