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HomeHealth & FitnessThis rare tick-borne disease is spreading rapidly in the US: here's what...

This rare tick-borne disease is spreading rapidly in the US: here’s what you need to know

This rare tick-borne disease is spreading rapidly in the US: here’s what you need to know

ticks they’re bugs that can cause a whole host of health problems (not just Lyme disease). Now, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that tick-borne disease babesiosis it has been spreading rapidly in the last decade, giving more reasons than ever to be aware of the parasite and the diseases it carries. So it’s natural to wonder about the causes, treatment, and prevention methods of babesiosis, so you can protect yourself and others from contracting the harmful disease.

He CDC report demonstrated trends in reported babesiosis cases. The data showed that during 2011–2019, the incidence of babesiosis in the US increased significantly in the Northeastern states. A total of 16,456 cases of babesiosis were reported to the CDC by 37 states. New York reported the highest number of cases (4,738), followed by Massachusetts (4,136) and Connecticut (2,200). The three states with the highest reported incidences were Rhode Island (18.0 per 100,000 population in 2015), Maine (10.3 in 2019), and Massachusetts (9.1 in 2019).

“Three states (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont) not considered to have endemic babesiosis significantly increased incidences and reported case counts similar to or higher than the seven states with known endemic transmission,” the report concluded. . Due to these alarming findings, tick prevention and traveler awareness are of paramount importance.

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Babesiosis isn’t particularly new, but it has shown progress in both case numbers and recognition, he says. David Cennimo, MD, an infectious disease expert and associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey School of Medicine. “It is a tick-borne disease caused by a parasite (Babesia) that infects red blood cells.” He notes that babesiosis has often been called “American malaria.”

This tick-borne disease isn’t just spreading now, he says Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health and Security. “[Babesiosis] it has always been spreading, but it appears to affect a larger geographic range than was once thought to be largely restricted,” he explains. “That may be the result of increased awareness, more testing, and a change in the habitat of the required tick or the deer with which the tick is associated.”

symptoms of babesiosis

Once infected, a patient’s symptoms can range from mild illness to severe sepsis, especially in people who are immunocompromised or have liver dysfunction, says Dr. Cennimo. “The clinical presentation is usually fever and a mild flu-like illness. But severe cases can experience severe anemia, organ failure, and even death.” However, Dr. Adalja says that many infected people are asymptomatic.

You may also develop the following symptoms, according to the CDC:

  • Fever
  • Shaking chills
  • sweats
  • Headache
  • Body pain
  • loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
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Babesiosis can also cause hemolytic anemia, which is the destruction of red blood cells. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, those symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • heart palpitations
  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Jaundice
  • A spleen or liver that is larger than normal
  • Pain in the back and abdomen
  • Shaking chills
  • Fever

Symptoms can start within a week, but they can also take months to appear.

Causes of babesiosis

People are usually infected through the bite of a blacklegged tick, also known as deer tick, which is infected with the parasites, says Dr. Cennimo. “This is the same tick vector that carries Lyme’s desease. So if you live in a Lyme risk area, you may be in a Babesia risk area.”

While the infection through tick bite is the most common way to contract the disease, Dr. Adalja notes that, on rare occasions, people can also develop babesiosis from a blood transfusion or organ transplant from an infected person.

babesiosis treatment

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The most common way to treat babesiosis is through a course of antibiotics. However, not all antibiotics will work for everyone. Dr. Adalja says that a combination of atovaquone and azithromycin is the mainstay of treatment, but clindamycin plus quinine can also be used. “In severe cases, red blood cell exchange transfusions can be used,” he explains.

prevention of babesiosis

People can avoid babesiosis, as well as other tick-borne diseases, by avoiding tick bites, says Dr. Cennimo. Advise people to use tick repellent and perform regular tick checks after spending time outdoors. “Also, since we have warmer winters, ticks become active all year round, so the risk period it needs to be reconsidered.”

Headshot of Madeleine Haase

cupcake, PreventionAn assistant editor at , she has a history of writing health topics from her experience as an editorial assistant at WebMD and from her personal research in college. She graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience, and helps design strategies for success around the world. PreventionThe social media platforms of.



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