CDC Warns of Tick-Borne Disease Babesiosis
The tick that spreads Lyme disease also spreads babesiosis, a malaria-like parasitic disease reported in 1,100 cases in 2011, U.S. health officials say.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said people living in or traveling to the Northeast and upper Midwest this summer should protect themselves by avoiding tick-infested areas, apply repellent, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors, shower after being outdoors and check their entire bodies for ticks.
Seven states -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin -- account for most of the cases of babesiosis, a CDC report said.
"Babesia infection can range from asymptomatic to life threatening. Symptoms include fever, influenza-like symptoms and anemia. Babesia parasites are usually tickborne but they also are transmissible via blood transfusion," the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said. "For 2011, the CDC was notified via National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System of 1,124 cases of babesiosis: 847 classified as confirmed cases and 277 as probable cases."
Babesiosis can be life-threatening -- especially to people without a spleen, the elderly, or the immune suppressed -- but it is treatable with antibiotics, if detected.
Babesia microti is transmitted by the bite of an infected ticks, typically when they are in the nymph stage, about the size of a poppy seed, the CDC said.