We’ve all heard about Lyme Disease and unfortunately, we would be surprised if anyone in Massachusetts didn’t have a personal connection to Lyme Disease. It is important to know that Lyme Disease is not the only tick-borne disease. There are more than a handful of other tick-borne diseases but we are going to walk through the most prevalent after Lyme Disease.
The black-legged tick (deer tick) that transmits Lyme Disease also transmits Anaplasmosis. Anaplasmosis is a bacterial infection. Symptoms include headache, fever, chills, and muscle aches. These symptoms typically begin around 5-21 days after transmission. Diagnosis is made based on symptoms as well as a known bite or likely exposure to ticks. Unfortunately, if you live in Massachusetts and go outside, you are likely to have exposure. Remember that you don’t need to see a tick or remove a tick to be exposed. Nymphs, or baby ticks, are the size of a poppy seed and their bite carries the same punch as the disease transmitted by the bite of an adult tick. The treatment for Anaplasmosis is antibiotics.
Babesiosis is also transmitted by the deer tick also called the black legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). The warmer months are when the Babesiosis infections peak. The tiny nymph ticks are most often responsible for the transmission. The symptoms are the same as Anaplasmosis but because this parasite infects red blood cells, it is a more severe threat to anyone with a compromised immune system. Confirmation can be made by blood cell inspection under a microscope. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a Babesiosis recommended treatment regimen for Babesiosis.
The lonestar tick is the primary vector (transmitter) of Ehrlichiosis. Ehrlichiosis is a broader name representing several different bacterial diseases. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Antibiotics are the standard course of treatment for Ehrlichiosis.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a severe illness spread by the American dog tick and the Rocky Mountain wood tick. RMSF is often severe enough to require hospitalization and can even be fatal. Symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite, and severe headache. RMSF is often diagnosed through a visible rash of small red spots or blotches starting on the ends of the extremities and often spreading to the legs, arms and torso. Antibiotics are the best course of treatment.
More tick-borne diseases
There are other much less prevalent tick-borne diseases including Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), Tularemia and Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever.
Here are some very important points to know:
- Education about practices to avoid tick exposure are critical. You simply cannot have too much information about safe tick avoidance practices
- Exposure avoidance begins at home, literally. Have your yard protected from ticks using a licensed professional and experienced organization. Yard treatment includes a barrier spray along with tick-tube treatments that eliminate the tiny nymph ticks that you don’t see.
- The elderly and those with compromised immune symptoms are the most susceptible. If your beloved aged grandmother loves to sit in your backyard and watch the grandkids or enjoy nature, you want to make sure to have your yard treated for ticks
- Comorbidity is possible. If the word comorbidity wasn’t bad enough, the meaning is worse. You can certainly be infected with more than one tick-borne disease at the same time.
- Your dog, cat, and other pets can also catch tick-borne diseases. Since your yard is their stomping ground, it’s critical to have your yard treated