In a ground-breaking discovery, researchers have found that white-tailed deer blood contains a substance that can kill the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. The findings, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, could have major implications for the prevention and treatment of this debilitating disease.
The study was led by Dr. Stephen Rich, a microbiologist at the University of Massachusett’s Amherst. His team collected blood samples from a partially captive white-tailed deer herd at Auburn University in Alabama. They then tested the blood for its ability to kill the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is carried by ticks and is the cause of Lyme disease.
The scientists cultured the Lyme disease pathogen in laboratory containers and introduced deer serum to the mix. Surprisingly, the bacteria were eradicated, as revealed by Rich. The substance in the deer that destroyed the bacteria is believed to be a component of the innate immune system, which operates before the formation of antibodies.
“Deer are vitally important to the survival of deer ticks, but they are not involved with transmitting the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi,” explains senior author Rich professor of microbiology. “We’ve known for some time that ticks taken from white-tailed deer are not infected, and we speculated that something about the deer prevented those ticks from becoming infected. But until publication of our paper, no one had done the experiment to show that deer blood – specifically the serum component of white-tailed deer blood – kills Lyme.”
The researchers caution that further studies are needed to determine whether the antibacterial substance in white-tailed deer blood is safe for humans to consume or use as a treatment. However, they are hopeful that their findings will pave the way for new approaches to fighting this dangerous disease.
For many people living in Lyme-endemic areas, the discovery of this natural antibacterial substance in white-tailed deer blood is welcome news. If this discovery leads to better treatments or even a cure, it would be a game-changer for people who have suffered from this often debilitating disease (especially if left untreated).
Overall, this breakthrough in the fight against Lyme disease is a promising development that could have far-reaching impacts on public health.