TEANECK, N.J. — Lyme Disease is not the only tick-borne illness anyone spending time outside should be looking for this season, according to Holy Name Medical Center's chief of infectious diseases, Dr. Suraj Saggar.
"It is something that in this geographic area have to be concerned about because we are in the hot zone of tick borne illnesses," Dr. Saggar of Ridgewood told Daily Voice.
"With warmer winters, earlier springs and later falls the season extends as well, and tick population is increasing. So cases of tick-borne illnesses are increasing."
These are the diseases that deer ticks can spread, he said:
- 1. Lyme Disease: Caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Often presents as a target rash.
- 2. Babesiosis: A parasite that effects red blood cells — "tick-borne malaria."
- 3. Anaplasmosis: Spread through another bacteria carried by ticks, symptoms show up a week or two following a bite. Symptoms are flulike and include fever, headaches, nausea and more.
- 4. Ehrlichiosis: Spread by deer, dog and Lone Star ticks and caused by bacteria, includes flu-like symptoms.
- (Note: Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis have all tick-transmitted pathogens that can attack red and white blood cells, and platelets, Dr. Saggar said).
- 5. Powassan Virus: Newly-spread by the deer tick, this disease is unlike Lyme in that it takes up to 36 hours before the virus is spread, according to the physician. It can occur in as little as 15 minutes and can cause neurological damage.
"The first line of offense is seeing a physician," Dr. Saggar said. "Treatment would be through oral antibiotics. If left untreated in very young or old segments of population, or anyone who has a supposed immune system, it could lead to death."
Anything else to know:
Watch out for overlapping symptoms and the possibility of coinfection of Lyme/babesiosis/anaplasmosis — which all come from the same vector (the deer tick).