Northern ticks and the diseases they can carryDisease carrying ticks are changing in the Upper Midwest, expanding both their range and the number of diseases they carry.
By: Associated Press,
Disease carrying ticks are changing in the Upper Midwest, expanding both their range and the number of diseases they carry.
— Ixodes scapularis (deer tick, black-legged tick): Prefers to live in hardwood forests. It’s common in the Upper Midwest. It can spread Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan disease.
— Dermacentor variabilis (american dog tick, wood tick): Common in Minnesota and often bites people. It can carry the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The Rocky Mountain wood tick, or dermacentor andersoni, is the other main carrier.
— Amblyomma americanum (lone star tick): Known for the distinctive white dot on the back of the adult female. It typically lives in the southern and southeastern states, but is now found in southern Iowa and Minnesota. It can carry southern tick-associated rash illness, or STARI, and ehrlichiosis.
— Lyme disease: A bacterial infection that can result in fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash. If left untreated, Lyme disease can spread and damage the joints, the heart and nervous system.
— Anaplasmosis: A bacterial infection with symptoms similar to the flu, with which it’s sometimes confused. It’s common in the Midwest and northeastern states.
— Babesiosis: A disease caused by microscopic parasites that attack red blood cells. Those infected suffer flu-like symptoms and a type of anemia. For the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, it can be life-threatening.
— Rocky Mountain spotted fever: A bacterial infection that can cause fever, vomiting, severe headache and a distinctive spotted rash. More than half the nation’s cases are in the south-Atlantic region. Minnesota recorded its first death from the disease in July.
— Powassan disease: A very rare viral disease that can cause swelling of the brain or the lining of the brain and spinal cord. A confirmed case in Minnesota in June was the western-most case ever recorded in North America.
— Ehrlichiosis: A general term for several bacterial diseases that are often spread by the lone star tick. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and sometimes confusion. It’s sometimes misdiagnosed as anaplasmosis, but both are treated with the same medications.
— Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness: The cause of STARI is unknown, but it’s not caused by the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Symptoms include a distinctive “bulls-eye” rash, fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint pains. Unlike Lyme disease, it hasn’t been linked to chronic or neurological problems.
Sources: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesota Department of Health.