Researchers announced Monday the discovery of a new form of Lyme disease found only in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
A team of researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., discovered the Borrelia mayonii bacteria, which is closely related to a previously discovered strain of the disease but is only found in the upper Midwest and causes slightly different symptoms.
"Scientists … first suspected the possibility of new bacteria after lab tests from six people with suspected Lyme disease produced unusual results," the Center for Disease Control said in a statement.
The discovery comes a week after state lawmakers heard testimony on a bill designed to improve diagnosis of the disease, which is transmitted by deer tick bites.
The bipartisan measure, introduced by state Reps. David Craig, R-Big Bend, Melissa Sargent, D-Madison and state Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, would require state agencies to come up with guidelines on how to diagnose and treat Lyme disease.
"Let's have an honest conversation about what our constituents are experiencing and then also draw out the fact that the medical examining board should draw out practices for what physicians should be doing in our state and give some clear guidance," Craig told Channel 300 last month when the bill was announced.
At the public hearing, scores of citizens told their stories of Lyme disease, which affects roughly 3,000 Wisconsinites each year. Even lawmakers, such as state Rep. James Edming, R-Glen Flora, who has dealt with the disease, shared their experiences.
"I'm almost scared to go into the woods—and I live in the woods," Edming said, according to Wisconsin Radio Network. "You can't walk around with this big jar over top of yourself with a cap on top of it.”
Some medical groups, such as the Wisconsin Medical Society, have opposed the bill as too onerous. An executive session has not yet been scheduled for the bill and it is unclear whether it will pass before the Legislature wraps up its session in the spring.