One Small Pest, 10 Potentially DEADLY Infections
(AscendHealthy.com) – Ticks are filthy creatures, capable of carrying a slew of infections other than Lyme disease. Some tick-borne illnesses might not get as much press, and we’re still learning the details about a few of them, but all are capable of causing severe infections. We’ve compiled all the vital info.
Caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum, anaplasmosis can occur all across the East and West Coasts and throughout most northeastern and southeastern states, warns the CDC. The blacklegged tick and western blacklegged tick, the vectors also responsible for Lyme disease, carry this potentially serious pathogen.
Sufferers usually notice symptoms within a week or two after the tick bite, with initial signs including fever, headache, body aches and gastrointestinal distress. If left untreated, anaplasmosis can quickly progress into a severe illness, causing lung and organ failure, bleeding problems and sometimes even death. Prompt treatment with doxycycline can prevent these complications.
Also carried by blacklegged ticks, according to the CDC, babesiosis is a blood parasite that people can catch via transfusion or through the womb. It can occur anywhere Lyme disease and anaplasmosis are present, although it’s most prevalent along the East Coast.
Symptoms can begin as soon as 1 week, but sometimes 3 months or longer after transmission. They include headache, body aches, appetite loss and gastrointestinal distress. LymeDisease.org warns that babesiosis also often causes drenching night sweats, “air hunger” and fevers up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Many cases can resolve on their own, but severe infections may require treatment with antimalarial drugs.
The Lyme Disease Association (LDA) says tick-borne bartonella can be transmitted by the same vectors as Lyme disease, although the CDC believes this information is inaccurate. However, Columbia University Irving Medical Center has found evidence that the bacterium may indeed be tick-borne and far more widespread than officials believe.
Bartonellosis can cause swollen lymph nodes, visual problems, headaches and seizure disorders, according to the LDA. Most cases self-resolve without any treatment, but cases that involve the neurological system may require antibiotics.
4. Colorado Tick Fever
According to the CDC, a species of Coltivirus causes Colorado tick fever (CTF). The Rocky Mountain wood tick, which lives throughout the western United States and some Canadian regions, carries this virus. CTF usually self-resolves, but lingering fatigue can last for weeks.
Most people who catch this disease develop flu-like symptoms, usually within 1-14 days of the tick bite. Some people may also develop a rash or sore throat. In about half of cases, sufferers experience a short break in their illness, which may feel like a recovery, only to see a full relapse in symptoms. In a rare subset of people, this virus can progress to the brain and cause life-threatening illness that may require hospitalization.
The blacklegged tick and the lone star tick both carry the bacterium that causes ehrlichiosis. It’s prevalent across most of the United States, sparing areas only in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
Symptoms usually begin 1-2 weeks after infection, says the CDC, and they’re typically flu-like. Some people develop a splotchy rash after about 5 days. This infection responds well to antibiotics, but it can become serious without prompt treatment. If left to progress, ehrlichiosis can cause confusion, nervous system damage, organ failure, bleeding problems and death.
6. Powassan virus disease
The CDC reports that three different vectors can carry Powassan virus: blacklegged, groundhog and squirrel ticks. This disease is still rare in the United States, with most cases seeming to center around the Great Lakes region and in parts of the northeast. About 10% of serious cases end in death.
Initial symptoms, which usually begin 1-4 weeks after the tick bite, include headache, vomiting, weakness and fever. Some cases progress to the brain, causing meningitis or encephalitis, which may cause confusion, seizures and difficulties with coordination and speech and sometimes death. People who survive severe Powassan virus infections frequently experience recurring headaches, memory problems and lasting muscle weakness. There’s no current treatment for this infection.
7. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
The American dog tick, brown dog tick and Rocky Mountain wood tick can all carry and transmit this infection, according to the CDC. Although it’s possible to catch it nearly anywhere in the United States, most cases occur in Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. A different variant of this disease is also prevalent in Arizona and New Mexico.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is an easily-treated bacterial infection. Doxycycline is the antibiotic of choice, but it can be deadly without treatment. Symptoms include headache, fever, severe gastrointestinal upset and a spotted rash. Some people may require limb amputations from blood vessel damage, while others may experience lasting disability due to paralysis, hearing loss and/or mental impairment.
8. Southern Tick-associated Rash Illness (STARI)
Researchers believe the lone star tick carries the bacterium responsible for STARI, although they still haven’t been able to isolate the specific pathogen. The lone star tick is common in the southeastern half of Texas as well as the eastern parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska and most states eastward through to the East Coast.
This infection usually begins with a bull’s eye rash, similar to Lyme disease, and other symptoms are remarkably similar as well. Despite the lack of info on STARI, and although people with this illness do not test positive for Lyme, many doctors will opt to treat it like Lyme disease due to their similarities.
9. Tick-borne relapsing fever
Soft ticks are the most common vectors for tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF), although a similar relapsing illness that’s also closely related to Lyme, Borrelia miyamotoi, occurs in blacklegged ticks. Soft ticks live throughout the western half of the United States and parts of Canada, but they’re most common in wooded areas infested with rodents.
TBRF follows a predictable pattern that begins with a high fever along with joint pain, muscle aches and headaches lasting for 3 days. A symptom-free period lasting 7 days follows, followed by another 3 days of fever and pain. This cycle can repeat several times over in the absence of treatment. Patients should be aware of the possibility of an initial worsening of symptoms upon beginning antibiotic treatment — a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction — which can occur with any illness similar to Lyme disease.
Ticks that carry this bacterial disease include dog, wood and lone star. Tularemia also goes by “rabbit fever,” according to Mayo Clinic, because it commonly infects rabbits and similar animals. The CDC warns that people have caught it in every US state except for Hawaii.
It always presents with a high fever, with most cases also developing severe ulceration at the site of the tick bite. Other symptoms can include painfully swollen lymph nodes, headache, exhaustion and chills. Antibiotic treatment usually leads to complete recovery, although some patients may experience lingering symptoms for weeks.
There’s a substantial overlap in tick-borne disease symptoms, so in many cases it may be difficult to tell which illness has taken hold. The type of tick can offer a clue, but knowing the region can also help determine the offender. Anyone who falls ill after noticing a tick bite should consult their doctor about appropriate testing. And remember, prompt and appropriate tick removal is the best way to avoid these diseases.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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