Just when my paranoia over Lyme disease couldn’t get any worse, a new report today concludes that another tick-borne virus is causing alarm.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (who should really just stick to making me laugh with zombie-related posts), the disease Babesiosis is starting to become more common in the Lower Hudson Valley and coastal areas of the Northeast. It’s spread through those tiny bastard deer ticks and thrives in red blood cells, brining on symptoms akin to malaria. In some cases, particularly with those that have already compromised immune systems, it can be fatal.
In addition, due to ineffective screening, the disease is also showing up in the blood supply. From the NY Times:
Babesiosis already is the most frequently reported infection transmitted through transfusion in the United States, responsible for at least 12 deaths. In New York City, six transfusion-associated cases of babesiosis were reported in 2009. Infection by this route can be serious: One study found approximately 30 percent of people who were infected by a transfusion died.
What to do? Well, if you’re like me, eschewing nature isn’t an option. Make sure to avoid tall grasses and while hiking stay on trails. Check yourself (have someone assist, if necessary) after walks in the woods. Light clothing also helps in more easily spotting the abominations. I also read a study that, bizarrely enough, showed that more people attracted ticks by sitting on logs. So – no logs. When in doubt, just burn your clothing, home, and any other possible items that may have come in contact with the outdoors. Better to play it safe.