Massachusetts residents are used to hearing about the risk of Lyme Disease in our area. This time of year, there is something about Lyme Disease in the news almost daily. Most cases of tick-borne illness are reported between the months of June-August. There are three serious tick diseases threats on the rise in Massachusetts: Lyme Disease, Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis.
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States. Lyme Disease is transmitted by the tiny black-legged deer tick. Massachusetts had a 19% increase in Lyme Disease cases from 2011-2012. Middlesex County alone had 485 confirmed cases of the disease in 2012. Worcester County reported 290 confirmed cases in 2012.
Babesiosis is a disease caused by a microscopic parasite that infects red blood cells. It is spread by an infected deer tick. Last year, Babesiosis cases rose by 22% in Massachusetts from 2011. Middlesex County seems to be an emerging area due to a large increase in the incidence rate although there were only 37 cases confirmed last year. The symptoms most commonly reported in confirmed cases included fever, fatigue and malaise. There were five fatalities from Babesiosis in Massachusetts last year.
Anaplasmosis is caused by bacteria that attack certain types of white blood cells called granulocytes. It is also known as HGA or human granulocytic ehrlichiosis. HGA is spread by the bite of an infected deer tick. Deer ticks can spread more than one type of germ in a single bite. There were 237 confirmed cases of Anaplasmosis in Massachusetts during 2012. This was a 60% increase from the previous year. Middlesex County had a substantial increase and a total of 51 reported cases.
The small deer tick has become a huge problem in Central Massachusetts. It is
important to take precautions to prevent being bitten by a tick. When out in brushy, wooded or grassy areas wear long, light-colored clothing. Use a repellent with DEET. Upon returning indoors, throw your clothes in the dryer on high heat. Check for ticks on the body especially in warm, moist areas. Good places to search are groin, armpits, scalp and behind ears. Shower and shampoo your hair before a tick can become attached.
In your own Central Massachusetts yard, tick control can be simple. Keep your yard cut short. Separate outdoor living areas from woods by creating borders. Remove leaf litter in and around your yard. Locate compost piles away from high traffic and play areas. Most important, make sure to call a tick control expert. Mosquito Squad of Chelmsford & Cambridge has a two-fold system to eliminate 90% of ticks from your yard. Our tick control barrier yard spray kills adult ticks on contact and continues to repel them for weeks. We can combine the tick spray with tick tubes that are strategically placed