Experts warn of rare diseases ticks can carry

(WTNH) — There are several illnesses that deer ticks can carry, though Lyme disease is perhaps the best known. Some illnesses can have similar symptoms to Lyme disease, such as achiness. They are typically treatable, but it is important to catch them early.

Black legged ticks, known as deer ticks, typically live in fallen leaves and shrubbery. They don’t just carry Lyme disease and Powassan virus.

“Babesiosis is, for those that are severely ill with it…the worst because people have died from it,” said Kirby Stafford, Chief Scientist and State Entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

Babesiosis is rare, but several hundred cases are reported in Connecticut each year. About one in ten deer ticks carry it. It’s something that can affect people differently.

“A lot of people may be asymptomatic, no symptoms at all, to disease and death,” said Stafford. “It actually runs that whole spectrum.”

About five percent of deer ticks carry bacteria that cause anaplasmosis. There are typically at least 50 cases reported in Connecticut every year. It used to be called erlichiosis.

“What is now called erlichiosis today is transmitted by the lone star tick,” said Stafford.

Those are rare in Connecticut, but they are found on Long Island and are moving further north. Connecticut residents can get erlichiosis.

It takes time for a tick to infect someone, which is why tick checks are so important.

“It does take 24-36 hours, at least 24 hours, to even begin the transmission process,” said Stafford.

Deer ticks can carry multiple diseases. A person can be infected with more than one at once, which can make treating the illnesses more difficult.

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