October 23, 2019
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Maine has seen a record-breaking number of cases of a tick-borne disease this year

Victoria Arocho | AP
Victoria Arocho | AP
This March 2002 file photo shows a deer tick under a microscope in the entomology lab at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, R.I. On Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a record number of tick-borne diseases _ more than 59,000 _ were reported in 2017. It’s a 22 percent increase from the number reported the year before.

Maine has seen a significant increase this year in the reported cases of two tick-borne diseases, with 556 cases of anaplasmosis and a record-breaking 124 cases of babesiosis so far, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of reported anaplasmosis cases is also on track to break the previous state record of 663 from 2017.

Those are in addition to 684 reported cases of the most well-known tick-borne illness, Lyme disease — a total that’s expected to surpass 1,000 by the end of 2019. The state recorded 1,405 cases of Lyme disease in 2018 and 1,855 in 2017.

Now, state health officials are warning residents to take precautions during the second peak season of the year for tick activity from October through November, such as wearing protective clothing and repellent, performing tick checks, and using caution in high-risk areas such as bushes and high grass. They advise wearing light-colored clothing, which can make it easier to spot ticks that are hitching a ride, and long sleeves and pants.

“This has been one of the most active tick seasons we’ve ever seen in Maine — and it’s not over,” Maine CDC Director Nirav D. Shah said. “The risk of tick-borne illnesses remains high through November, so we urge everyone to protect themselves from tick bites.”

Anaplasmosis and babesiosisis are both transmitted by infected deer ticks and bring some of the same symptoms, including fever, aches and fatigue. Both can become serious if not treated correctly and promptly.

Lyme disease is also transmitted by infected deer ticks. In slightly more than half of cases in Maine, infected patients have displayed a distinctive red rash that resembles a bullseye, usually within three to 30 days, according to the Maine CDC. Other serious symptoms can include arthritis and heart problems.

 



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