According to the New York Times, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that the number of cases of tick-borne diseases (also known as babesiosis) in some states in the northeastern United States more than doubled between 3 and 19.
Image source: Screenshot of the New York Times report
While many people with babesiosis have no symptoms, some develop flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, sweating and muscle pain. For people with deficient immune systems or other risk factors, the disease can be serious or even fatal.
For decades, the disease was extremely rare in the United States, but is now endemic in 10 states in the Northeastern and Midwest, the CDC said. Experts say rising temperatures and an increase in deer populations may have driven the trend, two factors that help ticks reproduce.
"I think this is an unfortunate milestone," said Dr. Pete Krauss, a babesiosis expert at the Yale School of Public Health.
Babesiosis is generally caused by parasites, and the first known infection in the United States was reported in Massachusetts in 1969. Today, most cases occur in the northeastern and Midwestern United States in the spring and summer. The parasite can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends screening donated blood in some states.
In the latest study, researchers analyzed 2011,2019 cases of babesiosis reported in 10 states between 16174 and 2019. There were more than 2300,2011 cases in <> alone, more than double the number in <>. The disease is most prevalent in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, with hundreds of cases typically occurring each year.
"The disease is spreading north," said Edward Vanier, a babesiosis expert at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where ticks that prefer warm, moist conditions are expanding northward. Vanier also stressed the need to expand surveillance and screening for the disease.
Babesiosis can be treated with antimicrobial drugs. In areas where the disease is endemic, it can be prevented by avoiding tall grass and bushes, wearing long trousers and using insect repellents.