Uncommon Tick-Borne Illness has “Increased Significantly” in New York
The flowers and bears aren't the only things coming out of hibernation this spring in the Hudson Valley. Warmer weather also brings ticks, and the myriad diseases they may carry.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is warning New York State and other northeast residents about a concerning rise in one tick-borne illness in particular: babesiosis. The CDC has expressed concern over the "significant increase" in babesiosis, which is carried by one species of tick in particular. Here's what to watch out for.
Babesiosis from Ticks in New York State
One particular problem New Yorkers face in preventing babesiosis is the size of the tick that carries the disease. While babesiosis is carried by black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), it's generally spread by those in the nymph stage. The CDC describes the nymph Ixodes scapularis as being "about the size of a poppy seed". Many are lucky enough to experience no symptoms if they contract babesiosis, but there is one group of people for which the disease could be life-threatening.
Which New Yorkers are Vulnerable to Babesiosis
Symptoms of babesiosis run the gamut from headaches and chills to anemia and blood clots. People without spleens are particularly vulnerable. From a 2008 study:
Because the spleen removes [red blood cells] containing Babesia parasites from the blood, patients [without a spleen] may be at higher risk for severe infection [and] overwhelming sepsis by Babesia.
Preventing Tick-Borne Diseases in New York
Actions New Yorkers can take to avoid a babesiosis infection mirrors common practices to avoid tick-borne illnesses in general. The CDC recommends spraying a tick repellent on both skin and clothing, wearing long clothes with pants tucked into socks, and keeping only to well-cleared trails. Check out some natural tick repellents below.