The New Threat to your Summer.
More and more ticks are surviving the mild winters in the Northeastern United States. More ticks mean more threats when we are outdoors. Yet, the threat of a new tick-borne disease is enough to make you want to cringe. With Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Powassan Disease, Tularemia, and Anaplasmosis you would think we have enough to contend with already.
Not to disappoint, the 2023 tick season has unearthed yet another deadly disease to be on the lookout for, Babesiosis. According to the CDC this disease is quickly spreading through the legions of ticks that survived the mild winter months. The deadly disease can easily go untreated as many of its victims are often asymptomatic or mistaken the onset of the disease for a common cold.
However, some victims may experience chills, headaches, fever, and body aches. The disease can cause renal failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, thrombocytopenia, and even death. Those with compromised immune systems can experience the most dire outcomes. While Lyme Disease can be transmitted after a tick has been attached for 24 hours, Babesiosis takes 36 to 48 hours. But don’t take that to mean anything, traces of the disease can remain if the tick is attached for any prolonged period. Your best bet is to perform constant tick checks in the field. The sooner they are discovered the better your chances of avoiding the disease.
Can it be treated with antibiotics? Babesiosis can be treated with available medication like Atovaquone or Azithromycin and that is a good thing because early treatment provides better results in the long term. If you are a hiker, camper or trail runner you are at a higher risk for exposure. Taking precautions by using tick repellent, wearing long pants and shirts while outdoors and conducting periodic tick checks is the best way to protect yourself. Of course, avoid picnics and activities in remote areas and take extra care to protect children under the age of two as they are susceptible to ticks given that they cannot use repellents as noted in the manufacturer's directions.
But fear not, you can still enjoy the outdoors. Just remember to check for ticks every few hours and use a quality tick repellent. If you find one avoid squeezing it with a pair of tweezers, that only causes the insect to pour fluids into your system through its saliva. Instead lift it off of your skin and place it in a zip-lock bag for testing by the lab. Most doctors send it to a free testing program that tracks tick-borne diseases throughout the state. Trust me you will want to know if it was infected. That way your doctor can take action if needed. Until then happy trails. Ok, maybe not so happy, more like cautious trails…