Tickborne diseases are on the rise in the US Northeast, a 25% jump from 2011 to 2019. One in particular has become endemic to three new states, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Thursday.
Cases of babesiosis – a potentially fatal condition caused by microscopic parasites carried by blacklegged ticks – have skyrocketed. Cases increased by an astonishing 1,602% in Vermont, 1,422% in Maine and 3,272% in New Hampshire, according to CDC data.
Historically, babesiosis was not considered endemic in those states. But it is now, the federal health agency said in a report, which called on public health workers to draw attention to the disease, how to recognize and prevent it.
What is babesiosis?
It is a disease caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. According to the CDC, those parasites are commonly carried by ticks, white-footed mice, and other small mammals.
What are the symptoms of babesiosis?
The disease can cause a wide range of illness, without any symptoms, up to death. However, the most common symptoms include:
- muscle and joint pain
More severe symptoms may include:
- kidney failure
- low blood platelet count
- acute respiratory distress syndrome, in which the blood oxygen level becomes dangerously low
How does one catch babesiosis?
Babesiosis is usually spread by black-legged or deer ticks – especially young ticks in the nymph stage. Nymphs are commonly found in woods, brush, or grassy areas during the spring and summer. Some nymphs are as small as a poppy seed, so you may not even know you’ve been bitten. That’s why it’s important to check daily for ticks if you’ve been to a high-risk area.
It is also possible to contract babesiosis through the transfusion of contaminated blood, or through childbirth (a mother can pass it to her child).
Who is most at risk of becoming seriously ill from babesiosis?
People at high risk of severe illness and death include:
- immunocompromised (perhaps due to cancer or AIDS)
- who do not have a spleen
- who have a serious health condition such as liver or kidney disease
At what condition am I most likely to develop babesiosis?
According to the CDC, until now, babesiosis was considered endemic in only seven states:
- new Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
Previous studies noted increased reports of babesiosis in particular areas of the US, including New York, from 2011 to 2015. Cases reported by the state to the CDC increased by nearly 60% from 2011 to 2019, according to federal health data. Not only that, New York reported the highest number of cases among all states reported during that time period.
How can I prevent babesiosis?
According to the CDC, people spending time outdoors in states where babesiosis is endemic—and in bordering states—should do the following:
- Avoid tick-infested areas.
- Wear long pants.
- Stay away from underbrush and tall grass.
- Use tick repellent.
- Check for ticks daily.
Orignal Post From: The CDC warns that cases of the tickborne disease babesiosis are on the rise in the US Northeast. here’s what you need to know