The Various Dangers of Getting Bitten by the Deer Tick

According to a story from Business Insider, the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, has been expanding its range in the United States, and where ever it goes, the risk of people receiving bites increases. The problem is that the deer tick has the potential to transmit up to six different illnesses, such as Lyme disease and babesiosis.
Lyme disease is probably the most week known of the diseases that the deer tick can transmit to people. While it can be treated with good outcomes if intervention is prompt, it can lead to a host of potentially debilitating symptoms, especially if left untreated. Look for the diagnostic “bull’s eye” rash around the area of the bite.
Babesiosis is a another disease in which parasitic bacteria destroy red blood cells by using them to reproduce. It can present with symptoms that are similar to malaria, particularly in severe cases. Some people that are infected may experience little or no symptoms, but in people with immunodeficiency, such as HIV/AIDs patients, or in the very young or very old, severe cases can develop more easily.
Deer ticks can also spread anaplasmosis, in which infectious bacteria attack a type of while blood cell called neutrophils. Symptoms are often flu-like, and include nausea, fever, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and more. Symptoms are usually mild, and it can be treated with antibiotics. Like in many infectious diseases, prompt treatment is essential.

The bacteria Borrelia miyamotoi, which is the same genus as the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, can also be transmitted by deer ticks. Generally, symptoms are similar to Lyme disease.

There are also several different types of bacteria carried by deer ticks that cause ehrlichiosis. This infection generally occurs far more rarely than the others. Symptoms can include fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. This infection can affect the function of the immune system, leaving the patient more vulnerable to other infections.
Deer ticks, along with several other species, can also transmit the Powassan virus. This is a very rare infection, with only 100 cases in the U.S. over the past decade.There are few treatment options for this infection, which can affect the brain. About ten percent of cases are lethal, and around half of patients will experience permanent neurological damage.

To avoid these diseases, the best thing you can do is prevent yourself from being bitten. When going outside there are several precautions you can take to avoid getting bitten by ticks.

    • Avoid thickly wooded areas with dense vegetation, such as heavy forest or tall grass.
    • Use plenty of bug spray.
    • Wear long sleeves and light colored clothing to make detecting ticks easier. This can also delay the time between when a tick lands on you and when it delivers a bite.
    • Thoroughly check yourself for ticks after being outdoors.
    • Learn to identify the deer tick. They usually have reddish brown bodies and black legs.

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