Warning: Many dangerous tick diseases now spreading in NJ
💀Tick disease threat now increasing in New Jersey
💀 Some tick bites can cause horrible reactions to red meat products
💀 What to do if you think you’ve had a tick bite
It is well known that Lyme disease is a serious problem in New Jersey, but as the weather turns warmer and more Garden State residents are spending time outdoors, there are several other types of tick-borne diseases that also pose serious health risks.
According to tick expert Pat Smith, the president of the Lyme Disease Association in Jackson, it’s important to always do a tick check after spending any time outside, which means carefully checking yourself, your kids and even your dog.
And remember, ticks can and do crawl up into the groin area.
Many ticks, many problems
She said beyond Lyme there are a number of other tick diseases now impacting Garden State residents, including anaplasmosis, also called yellow fever; and ehrlichiosis from bacteria of the bite of the lone star tick.
She said the black-legged tick, which causes Lyme disease, can also cause ehrlichiosis and it can also be spread by blood transfusions and organ transplants.
Smith said cases of another tick disease, Babesiosis are up 25% from 2011 to 2019, “and it’s one of the most common co-infections with Lyme.”
Very uncomfortable symptoms
She noted symptoms include “fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pains, and sometimes very severe sweats, and it’s particularly problematic and fatal to the elderly.”
“Unfortunately the signs of a lot of tick-borne diseases are very similar: fever, severe headache, muscle pains, chills, nausea, vomiting.”
Smith said several spotted fever tick infections have been grouped together, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
“You get this by the bite of the American dog tick, or sometimes the brown dog tick, and that’s a tick you will often see on dogs and in dog kennels.”
Watch for the rash
She pointed out symptoms include fever, headaches, myalgia, and a characteristic rash on the wrists, ankles, soles and palms that eventually develop.
Another tick disease to be aware of is Southern tick associated rash illness.
“It comes from the bite of a Lone Star (tick). Now here in New Jersey we have a lot of Lone Stars, in some areas probably more than the black legged tick,” she said.
She pointed out if you get a tick-borne illness you may develop alpha-gal syndrome, which is “an allergic reaction after a tick bite to red meat or red meat products.”
Dangerous reactions to red meat
Smith said the symptoms of alpha-gal syndrome can include anaphylactic shock, nausea or vomiting, heartburn or indigestion, diarrhea, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, throat, tongue or eyelids.
She noted Powassan virus is transmitted by the black-legged tick “and it has a high fatality rate, and transmission time of the virus can be as short as 15 minutes of a tick attachment time.”
She stressed there is a risk of severe illness from several types of tick bites if treatment with the antibiotic doxycycline is delayed, so prompt medical attention is very important whenever a tick bite is suspected or confirmed.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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