New outbreak of deadly tick-borne pathogen sparks fears – the 5 signs you must know
MEDICS have issued an alert as cases of a rare tick-borne infection have skyrocketed.
Babesiosis infections have “significantly increased” in eight northeastern US states in recent years, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows.
Most cases of babesiosis are caused by tiny parasites spread by black-legged ticks Ixodes scapularis.
A tick bite can infect your red blood cells.
People can also get it through contaminated blood transfusions and organ transplants from infected donors, and it can be passed from their mothers to babies.
Most people who get babesiosis have mild or no symptoms — but those with a weaker immune system are at a higher risk of becoming very ill. In some cases it can be fatal.
Between 2011 and 2019, 37 U.S. states reported 16,456 cases of babesiosis to the CDC, according to the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report — but more than 98 percent of those cases were reported by 10 states.
The CDC focused on those states and found “significant” increases in infections in eight of them: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
And the tick-borne parasite also regularly infects people in places where it didn’t previously.
The US health authority said babesiosis is newly endemic in three of the eight states it marks, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Vermont’s rate rose from two cases in 2011 to 34 in 2019, while New Hampshire’s rose from 13 to 63 and Maine’s from 9 to 138.
Endemic refers to a disease that is constantly spreading but contained in certain regions.
This differs from a “pandemic,” which refers to a disease’s growth rate skyrocketing and crossing international borders.
Babesiosis was considered endemic in the first seven states before 2011.
The findings prompt the CDC to urge people in the 10 states and bordering states to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease.
It has also been suggested that expanding babesiosis risk could have implications for the blood supply as people who get it [it] from contaminated blood have been shown to have significantly worse health outcomes and a higher risk of death than those who contracted the disease from a tick bite.”
“Individuals who are outdoors in states with endemic babesiosis should practice tick bite prevention, including wearing long pants, avoiding undergrowth and tall grass, and using tick repellents,” said the report’s author.
Signs of babenosis and how to be ‘tick aware’
Most people with babesiosis have either no symptoms or mild symptoms of infection, according to the CDC.
But people with weakened immune systems can get very sick.
They may exhibit flu-like symptoms such as:
- Muscle aches
In rare cases, babesiosis can be fatal. According to the CDC, risk groups for serious infections include:
- elderly people
- people with weakened immune systems
- People with serious medical conditions such as liver or kidney disease
- people without a spleen
To reduce your risk of being bitten, you should:
- Stay on footpaths and avoid tall grass when walking
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants tucked into your socks
- considering the use of repellents containing DEET
- Check for ticks regularly when you are outdoors and when you come home
- If you’ve been bitten by a tick, remove it as soon as possible with fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool – grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and slowly and firmly pull upwards. Then wash your skin with soap and water and apply an antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite
There have already been cases of babesiosis in the UK.
Public Health England (now merged into the UK Health Security Agency) reported that someone in Devon had been diagnosed with babesiosis in July 2020 – it was the first time the rare infection had been acquired on British soil.
Contact your GP immediately if you feel unwell and remember to tell them if you have been bitten by a tick or have been outdoors recently.
Hot weather is usually the best breeding ground for ticks.
Ticks are difficult to spot until you’ve been bitten and see a dark lump – probably painless at first as the bite contains a mild anesthetic.
They range in size from a pinhead to a marble, and grow as they suck your blood.
If you get bitten, you could also be at risk of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can cause lifelong debilitating symptoms.
https://www.the-sun.com/health/7683494/outbreak-deadly-tick-borne-pathogen-signs/ New outbreak of deadly tick-borne pathogen sparks fears – the 5 signs you must know