Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why Worry About Ticks?  This One Almost Killed Me

The rise of tick-borne diseases has been fueled in part by climate change, and this may be the worst year yet.

Blacklegged tick (Credit: CDC) Click to Enlarge.
In my case, the tick probably had caught a ride on my pants a couple of weeks earlier as I led my two young children through a field at a nature center outside Boston.  When it bit me and delivered the parasite it was carrying into my bloodstream, what resulted was a harrowing experience that gave me an all-too-intimate view of the growing epidemic of tick-borne disease in the U.S. today.

The spread of these illnesses has been fueled in part by climate change.  Warming temperatures have played a key role in the steady rise of tick numbers and northward expansion of their range, all of which has helped give rise to what some are already calling the worst tick season ever.

'I Didn't Realize How Close I Had Come to Dying'
Babesiosis, also known as "Nantucket fever," is caused by the parasite Babesia microti, similar to those that cause malaria.  It was first detected on the island off Massachusetts in 1969 and has since spread across much of New England and the northern Midwest.  Most people with babesiosis never know they have it.  For those with weakened immune systems, however, the infection can be deadly.

Read more at Why Worry About Ticks?  This One Almost Killed Me

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