CDC: Rare tick-borne disease babesiosis on the rise in northeast
A rare tick-borne illness is on the rise in the northeast, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Babesiosis is a disease that attacks red blood cells within humans and is transmitted through the black-legged tick – more commonly known as the deer tick, which also can carry Lyme disease.
The disease is not new, but in recent years the average infection rate has gone up to 8.5%.
Warmer winter months have slowed down the killing of ticks which has caused them to thrive for longer periods of time.
"That contributes to the increase and abundance of black-legged ticks as well as the increases that this tick is capable of transmitting," said Dr. Goudarz Molaei, chief scientist at Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Some symptoms of babesiosis are fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea and/or fatigue. If left untreated, babesiosis can progress to a certain type of anemia.
Like Lyme disease, it can infect both humans and pets if bitten.
"Your animal cannot give it to you but you both can catch it from the tick," said Dr. Joseph Ianniello, a veterinarian at Bond Vet.
Animals can experience similar symptoms as humans.
"Inflammation in the ears, paw-pads may be really hot, a lot of them are just lethargic, laid out they don't want to move, don't really want to eat as much, drink as much. Some may even have some joint pain," said Ianniello.
Veterinarians recommend preventative care.
"Even if you remove them, contact your veterinarian and they'll explain next steps, but typically this requires blood work," Ianniello said.
Veterinarians and doctors say it is important to check pets and yourself after being outdoors and to seek treatment if you or your pet experience symptoms.