CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Monday marks the first day of Spring, and tick-borne illnesses tend to become a greater problem as the weather warms up.
Cases of yet another tick-borne disease are rising in the Northeast. According to a CDC report, Babesiosis cases are rising in eight states. Babesiosis is one of the many tick-borne diseases that can be fatal in rare cases, caused by the Babesia parasite that infects red blood cells which can be carried by black-legged ticks or deer ticks in the northeastern and midwestern United States.
Dr. Armando Paez, Division Chief of Infectious Diseases at Baystate Health told 22News, “It’s basically a blood parasite, an infection, that primarily infects the red blood cells and can cause symptoms including anemia and flu like symptoms seen during the summer.”
Babesiosis is becoming more prevalent in the Northeast. Cases of babesiosis rose by 25% from 2011 to 2019, causing the CDC to add three states, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire to the list of those where the illness is considered endemic.
“You should be concerned about ticks in general, even if it’s not babesiosis. There are lots of other things you can get so the particular tick that transmitted this disease is the black legged
tick. Which can also give you Lyme which is another thing terrible that you can get among other illnesses,” said Natasha Wright, an entomologist at Braman Termite and Pest Elimination.
Symptoms of babesiosis include fever, chills, headaches, body aches, nausea, and muscle, and joint pain. Humans acquire babesiosis from deer ticks, whose bites can transmit Babesia parasites that infect red blood cells. The good news is that 20 percent of adult cases and 50 percent of pediatric cases are asymptomatic.
“The reason for the upticks from 2011 to 2019 is that we have better testing to find it. Not because I don’t think it’s more common now it’s probably been equally as common, but we have better testing for it,” said Wright.
The CDC says if you do get bitten by a tick, remove the tick as soon as possible. Not every tick is carrying harmful bacteria, but it is recommended to reach out to your primary care physician if you are experiencing any symptoms.