On TODAY this morning, 10/12/2017, evidence was presented that the blood-sucking insect we all fear, has given us another reason to worry-ticks also spread a disease far worse (unimaginable) than Lyme disease. Scientists have found that the same tick (black-legged) that carries Lyme, also carries anaplasmosis bacteria. When Jeffrey Diamond started experiencing flu like symptoms and later becoming disoriented, his wife took him to the ER and after tests, he was sent home. Diamond’s symptoms worsened. “I had the worst headache I’d ever had and I was feeling really wiped out,” the Richmond, Massachusetts author remembered. “It all came on so quickly and I felt so terrible, I decided waiting another 24 hours might not be smart.” and his doctor diagnosed him with the bacteria. By the time Diamond started on his course of antibiotics, his health had drastically declined. His kidneys were starting to fail .
With the fall being warmer than usual this year, there have been more cases of tick-borne illnesses. The scary thing about anaplasmosis is that it can result in death in about 1 percent of cases, according to the CDC. Most at risk for severe outcomes are people over 60 and those who don’t get treatment quickly
Symptoms of the bacteria:
- Muscle pain
- Nausea/abdominal pain
Very rarely people with anaplasmosis develop a rash. Patients may also experience confusion, nausea (the feeling of sickness in the stomach), vomiting, and joint pain. Unlike Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a rash is not common. Infection usually produces mild to moderately severe illness, with high fever and headache, but may occasionally be life threatening or even fatal. Symptoms appear one to two weeks after the bite of an infected tick. However, not every bite from an infected tick results in infection. Symptoms and possible tick bite exposure may cause a health care professional to suspect one of these infections. Laboratory tests confirm diagnosis by seeing if the bacteria or antibodies against the bacteria are present in the person. Tetracycline antibiotics are usually rapidly effective for these infections.
Anaplasmosis can affect people of any age. Neither disease is spread from person to person. People who spend time outdoors hiking, working, or playing, particularly in grassy and wooded areas from April until October are at greatest risk for exposure. Ticks can be active any time the temperature is above freezing.
You should be suspicious if you develop a flu-like illness after being in a tick-infested area.
States reporting the highest incidence were Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut, New York, and Maryland. Most cases occur in the spring and summer months. During this time, nymphal deer ticks are most likely to come into contact with humans in New England and North Central United States.
The only way to protect yourself against the disease is to avoid being bitten by a tick. When you’re in tick-infested areas, you take the same precautions you take for Lyme. Try to make yourself as unappealing and inhospitable to ticks as possible. Wear long sleeves and long pants with the cuffs tucked into your socks so nothing can crawl up your leg. Use a repellent with DEET. Always check your animals after they have been outside and protect them against ticks as well. Remember, they can bring them into the home.
Photo courtesy of WebMD.com.