As a Native American family scratches rashes in an Albuquerque hospital while the pregnant daughter struggles with a potentially fatal reaction to the antibiotic, veterinarian Maya Maguire of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scrambles to determine the cause. She’s had no time to recover from a mysterious Arizona anthrax outbreak and its fallout on those closest to her.
Her boss at the New Mexico health department guesses that the rashes are from infection with Borrelia, a squiggly spirochete bacteria transmitted by blood-sucking insects. An agriculture veterinarian with his own burdens from the anthrax investigation joins Maya to investigate Borrelia in eastern New Mexico dogs. Both veterinarians cope with life and work tragedies using alcohol or medication.
Maya is uncomfortable with the request to mentor a new, arrogant CDC trainee assigned to Arizona. As a shy statistics nerd and Chinese-American adoptee, she fears she’s too young and damaged with PTSD from a childhood accident to juggle multiple Borrelia cases and the trainee’s oversight at his month-long orientation in Atlanta. An invitation to investigate immigrant-associated Borrelia in Europe during a summer heatwave is a chance to escape the overwhelming challenges, or one more opportunity to fail.
ABOUT BORRELIA (Updated 3/6/21)
Eurosurveillance | Louse-borne relapsing fever (Borrelia recurrentis) diagnosed in 15 refugees from northeast Africa: epidemiology and preventive control measures, Bavaria, Germany, July to October 2015