What You Need To Know About Ticks

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 5/30/2017, 9:39 a.m.
As summer heat descends, replacing balmy spring breezes, ticks are becoming active in many regions of the United States. In ...
If a tick is not removed within 36 to 48 hours, antibiotic treatment should be received.

"However, the most important of these ticks is the black-legged tick," he said, explaining that it "is involved in transmission of at least five important disease agents": babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Borrelia miyamotoi infection, Powassan virus and Lyme disease.

Babesiosis is rare and does not usually have symptoms, though some people develop fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anaplasmosis is similarly rare and causes similar symptoms.

Borrelia miyamotoi "was discovered 10 to 15 years ago in the US, and it causes relapsing fever," according to Molaei.

Powassan virus, which was discovered in Ontario in 1958, is also rare, with the CDC reporting only 75 cases over the past decade in the northeastern states, the Great Lakes region and Canada.

Dr. Jennifer Lyons, chief of the Division of Neurological Infections and Inflammatory Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said most infected people will never show symptoms, but some develop fever and headache.

"About 15% of patients who are infected and have symptoms are not going survive," she said. "Of the survivors, at least 50% will have long-term neurological damage that is not going to resolve."

"You basically feel nonspecific flu-like stuff," Lyons said, including "muscle aches and pains; maybe you have a little rash on your skin."

And then there's Lyme disease.

According to Fish, Lyme is the most common tick-borne disease by far. Each year, the CDC receives reports of nearly 30,000 cases of this illness, which can cause fever, headache, fatigue and a bulls-eye rash known as erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.

Lyme disease is most prevalent in the Northeast and the upper Midwest, with "probably 95% of the cases" occurring in these regions, though California sees some cases as well.

What about dog ticks and lone star ticks?

Dog ticks cause illnesses including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which at 500 cases per year is probably the next most common disease spread by ticks, Fish said. Symptoms include fever, malaise and a rash.

It can be fatal and, of all the tick-borne infections, is most frequently so.

"All of those fatalities are really needless, because it's easily treatable with antibiotics," Fish said. The issue is that physicians don't always recognize it, and people don't always get treatment.

Most prevalent in the Appalachians, the Carolinas and Georgia, this fever was discovered in Montana, hence the name.

"If you get symptoms of fever, malaise after a tick bite, and with Rocky Mountain spotted fever you see rashes on your body, then you should seek immediate treatment."

An emerging illness transmitted by the lone star tick is Southern tick-associated rash illness, or STARI. Symptoms include fatigue, headache, fever, muscle pains and a rash similar to that of Lyme disease. It is important to remember that the lone star tick bites people at all three of its life stages; the smaller the bug, the less likely it will be noticed and felt.