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Devastating New Infection From Ticks

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Devastating New Infection From Ticks
Anyone familiar with the effects of Lyme disease knows how life-changing it can be. Now a new potentially devastating infection caused by tick bites is beginning to spread in the Lower Hudson Valley, coastal areas of the Northeast, and elsewhere, according to an article in The New York Times. The malaria-like illness, called babesiosis, is a result from infection with Babesia microti, a parasite that lives in red blood cells and is carried by deer ticks.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited in the Times says that there were six cases of babesiosis in the Lower Hudson Valley in 2001 and 119 cases in 2008, a 20-fold increase. In areas where Lyme disease is endemic, like coastal Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Long Island, babesiosis also is becoming very common, said Dr. Peter Krause, senior research scientist at the Yale School of Public Health. Babesiosis also is spreading slowly into other regions where it did not exist before, like the Upper Midwest.

Babesiosis can be fatal, particularly in people with compromised immune systems–and since there is no test to screen for it, there is a particular threat that it is tainting the blood supply. Hopefully the Food and Drug Administration will be licensing a test soon, but as of now the only way to screen a potential blood donor is by merely asking donors if they are infected. Babesiosis is already the most frequently reported infection transmitted through transfusion in the United States, responsible for at least 12 deaths.

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

66 comments

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8:59AM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

YUCK---thanks 4 posting this!

8:20AM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

WOW! Thank for the heads up on this one!

3:03AM PDT on May 4, 2013

thank you for sharing this article

4:22PM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Hard to believe something so small as a tick can be so potentially deadly to a human...

3:29AM PDT on Jul 12, 2011

Thanks for sharing this information

4:26AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

the tick is related to spiders

2:24AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

ticks are so terrible. I had few.

12:42AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

scary stuff

1:13PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

thank you-nice to know

9:50AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

I don't care for either mosquitoes or ticks (or millepedes, etc.), but I gotta imagine that their spread of infections is to keep the population they attack down (whether they were healthy or not). Still, they scare me!

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