Lyme Disease Bacteria Older than the Human Race

Lyme Disease BacteriaThe bacteria that causes Lyme disease has been around for a super-whopping long time, according to evidence pried from ticks trapped in amber some 15 to 20 million years ago.

Researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) studied four ticks found in the Dominican Republic, and the sap-trapped critters revealed a large grouping of cells that bear a close resemblance to Borrelia, a type of bacteria that to this day causes Lyme disease.

The ticks represent the oldest known fossil evidence of Borrelia, and they suggest the startling notion that tick-borne bacteria has likely been delivering Lyme disease to humans for as long as there have been humans.

Soft-bodied bacteria aren’t often preserved in the fossil record, but amber, which starts out as tree sap, makes a great preservation medium, as it slowly bides its time and becomes a mineral.

Lyme disease itself was not even identified until 1975. The disease — which hampers the joints, heart and central nervous system — can be cured with antibiotics if it’s caught early, but it’s often misdiagnosed.

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