UPDATED ON: May 1st, 2015
The dangers of the deer tick just got a bit more real. These nasty little bugs also carry a lesser known parasite that can become potentially fatal to humans called babesiosis – and it’s coming to a wood near you.
Babesiosis is caused by a protozoan called Babesia microti, and its making an unwelcome appearance in many Eastern states. First discovered in the late 1960’s this disease is carried and spread by certain tick and mice species, but it’s the tick part we think you should be armed against each time you head to your early season haunts.
According to a recent study by the CDC, babesiosis cases have made a heavy increase across seven counties in the Lower Hudson Valley area of New York State. During a period from 2001 to 2008, infections rose from 6 to 119. Of these, 117 affected patients were exposed to it by the tick. Currently, the most common areas to find this disease are in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. The concern from researchers and scientists is that it is moving further west, with cases steadily on the rise.
The danger of babesiosis is the fact that it can live with its host nearly undetected. Many infected patients never show any signs or symptoms of the disease. The most common symptoms include flu-like aches of the head, body and muscle, as well as fever, chills, and fatigue. Basically, it is likely you would never suspect it’s anything but a common cold.
Deer ticks can pass infected saliva into human skin, resulting in babesiosis.
Often introduced into its human host through an infected tick bite, the parasite acts quickly, invading and feeding on the body’s red blood cells. Untreated, the infection can cause organ failure. The elderly and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk. However, treatment can be effective if the disease is caught early on.
Don’t be frightened by the above information as the staff at the Hunting Network is merely educating the hunting community before the start of this deer season. We want you to enjoy it, and that means staying as tick free as possible. Whether you are entering the woods quickly to hang a trailcam this summer, or preparing a stand site, please make sure you are taking the proper precautions to limit contact with those creepy little hijackers – the tick.
-Wear pants when entering the woods and, whenever possible, tuck the pant leg into your boots.
-Wear light-colored clothing. Ticks are easy to spot on white shirts.
-Spray yourself with DEET or Permethrin tick repellent.
-Once indoors, check yourself from head to toe, removing any ticks before heading into the shower.