Tick-borne illness may be growing

According to a recent report by Connectict tick-borne disease expert Dr. Sandra Bushmich, data indicates that a new form of tick-borne illness, Borrelia miyamotoi, is growing.

Unlike Lyme disease, which is picked up by each tick along the way, the Borrelia infection is passed directly from the mother tick to her eggs, which are born with the infection, so it has a great potential to grow exponentially each year.

"We are worried that the newest discovered tick virus will rear its ugly head this year in a big way," said Dr. Julia Greenspan, ND, a tick-borne disease expert who has been diagnosing and treating tick-associated diseases for years with IV antibiotics at her clinic in Amherst, Greenhouse Naturopathic Medicine.

"Unlike Lyme disease, this infection is passed from mommy tick to baby tick. We need to be extra vigilant this year. Many people don’t realize that it’s not just Lyme disease we have to worry about. Ticks can carry many different types of infections," Greenspan said.

"The newly discovered infection Borrelia miyamotoi is growing. It has been successfully treated with the same antibiotics that treat Lyme disease, amoxicillin and doxycycline. However, other infections like Babesia microti-infection require a completely different drug more similar to the treatment for malaria.

"The same tick can carry and transmit many different types of organisms, which complicates diagnosis and treatments. For instance, you may need two totally different antibiotics. The best option is to test the tick itself, which is possible if it is brought to our office intact," Greenspan said.

The state primarily tracks four tick-borne infections: Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan virus. Information about these is available at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/lyme.

Borrelia miyamotoi infections usually have no rash, but the patient may have a fever, severe headache, arthralgia (achy joints), chills, fatigue, low blood platelets and low white blood cell count. The symptoms are actually closer to those of anaplasmosis, another tick-borne disease.

May and June are a good time to treat yards to help control the tick population all year.

Treat your yard around areas that ticks like, such as perimeters near the woods or rock walls. Keep your grass short, dehydrating ticks. Consider a small yard application of permethrin as a control measure.

Other safety measures include:

? Wear long pants and socks.

? Use Deet, a tick-repellent that can be applied to the skin.

? Wear tick-repellent socks with tight weave so ticks can’t bite through the fabric.

? Check yourself regularly for ticks, especially near the neck and head, which are their favorite areas to feed. Make it a nightly routine to do a tick check.

? Check your pets and treat with tick-preventive collars or monthly topical treatments for ticks.