Residents of Massachusetts and the surrounding northeastern states are well aware of the tick scourge that has been affecting residents of the area for several years. For those lucky enough to live in a region where ticks are not considered a major threat to public health, the northeast US region is home to several tick species that are capable of spreading disease to humans, most notably lyme disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30,000 people become infected with tick-borne lyme disease each year. A large amount of tick-borne disease cases are contracted by residents of Massachusetts, as more than 50,000 people have contracted tick-borne disease within the state between 2004 and 2016. While most Massachusetts residents are well aware of the possible consequences of sustaining tick bites, there are some lesser-known, but serious complications that can arise from sustaining tick bites that very few people know about.
If contracting a tick-borne disease is not terrible enough, researchers believe that it is possible for individuals to contract two tick-borne infections following a bite from one single ixodes tick. While lyme disease is the most commonly contracted type of tick-borne disease, anaplasmosis and babsiosis are catching up, as the latter two tick-borne diseases have been increasing in prevalence within Massachusetts for the past four years. Around one third of ticks in the northeast carry lyme disease, and one third of those ticks carry another disease, such as anaplasmosis or babsiosis.
In addition to the possible emergence of co-infections, Massachusetts state officials have found blood containing a tick-borne pathogen, babesia, within the state’s blood-banks. This pathogen is capable of being passed from a mother to her unborn child, and another tick-borne pathogen, bartonella, is suspected of doing the same, but this has not yet been demonstrated conclusively. Residents of Massachusetts are also at risk of contracting tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever from the less prevalent, but still threatening dog tick. Lastly, Massachusetts residents who avoid tick-heavy forested areas are not necessarily safe from tick-borne disease, as pets have been known to transport ticks indoors.
Have you ever found a tick embedded within your skin? If you have, did you find it on your skin after spending time within a forested area?