Babesiosis on the Rise in Northeastern & Midwestern US: CDC Report
Babesiosis, a tick-borne illness, is on the rise in the northeastern and midwestern United States, according to a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The prevalence of the illness has increased significantly in states including Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, with the largest increases reported in Vermont (1,602%), Maine (1,422%), New Hampshire (372%), and Connecticut (338%).
The CDC cautions that the increasing prevalence of babesiosis could pose risks to the blood supply, as the disease is transmissible through blood transfusion. Symptoms of the disease include fever, muscle and joint pain, and headache, and illness can range from mild to severe in some cases. Patients may not be aware that they have an infection due to the fact that it can be asymptomatic, thus not requiring testing.
The researchers suggested that babesiosis is possibly more widespread than the data suggests, as not all states report cases to the CDC and asymptomatic cases are not usually detected by physicians. In the United States, the FDA advises those donating blood to be screened for babesiosis in fourteen states and Washington, DC, in regions where the disease is commonly found.
The CDC advises that the best way to prevent tick-borne illnesses is to avoid getting bitten by a tick. To do so, the CDC recommends wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toe shoes when outdoors, using an EPA-registered insect repellent, and avoiding wooded and brushy areas with high grass. People should also perform tick checks after outdoor activities, and shower and check for ticks within two hours of being outdoors.
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