The fifth warmest winter in New England provided a nice transition into spring. Unfortunately, the warm winter also contributes to a bigger tick population. The Boston Globe has a feature explaining how warmer winter seasons allow more ticks to survive. As a result, babesiosis is now a tick epidemic in New England.

The CDC recently summarized babesiosis as a disease stemming from ticks most found in the Northeast and Midwest. There were a high number of cases recorded from 2011-2019. As a result, it is now a regional epidemic in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. Babesiosis had already been classified as an epidemic in Massachusetts due to the fact that New York confirmed more cases during that same eight-year timeframe.

“In the United States, most babesiosis cases are caused by Babesia microti, transmitted from bites of blacklegged ticks,” the CDC states. Babesiosis is carried by the same tick as Lyme disease. Lyme disease has been prevalent in New England for years. It was expected that Babesiosis would soon follow.

So, What Do We Do About it?

Awareness is a key first step. Anyone can get an illness transmitted by ticks. There are prevention steps you can take, however. First and foremost, the CDC suggests you start your tick checks earlier than usual. Make tick checks habitual and routine. In addition to checking your body, it’s important to check your clothing as well. Tumble-drying your clothing on high heat for 10 minutes can also kill them off. It’s important to note that cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks, but hot temperatures will.

Other preventative measures include wearing bright clothing to make ticks more visible, given they can be the size of a poppy seed. Check your pets thoroughly as well. You can spray your gear with products that contain 0.5% permethrin. Using repellents that are Environmental Protection Agency registered. Showering soon after coming in from the outdoors can also serve as beneficial.

tick spray

Lastly, it is important to know the regions of the body that are most common (like under arms, and hairline). As points out, symptoms for Babesiosis, “normally start anywhere between one week to one month after the initial tick bite.” Fever, chills, and body aches are common signs

Babesiosis can be treated using a combination of antimicrobial prescription medications. But proactive due diligence is a key to avoidance.

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