NEW YORK (WWTI) —Although Lyme disease is the most common disease spread by ticks in New York, there are other serious diseases they can carry and spread. Once a tick gets on the skin it usually climbs upward until it reaches a protected area.
Other diseases spread by ticks include anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis, which causes flu-like symptoms and may occasionally be life threatening. Symptoms for the bacterial disease appear one to two weeks after being bitten by an infected tick.
Babesiosis is a rare disease that can be spread by a deer tick, and is more severe for the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Although many cases do not cause any signs, some develop flu-like symptoms and can also lead to a specific type of anemia. In severe cases, blood clots, organ failure, unstable blood pressure, and rarely death may occur.
Infected ticks can also spread Powassan virus disease, although it is rare some severe cases require hospitalization to receive support for breathing, hydration, or reducing swelling in the brain. There is currently no medication to treat the virus.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a bacterial disease spread by an infected American dog tick. Early signs include a fever, headache or rash but the disease can rapidly progress to a serious life-threatening illness, and sometimes amputation due to damage of blood vessels.
Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They are known to cling to tall grass or brush no more than two feet off the ground, which makes lawns, gardens and the edge of wooded areas the perfect place for them to live. In order to stay away from tick infested areas individuals should avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation.
There are other ways to protect against ticks in situations where these areas are unavoidable like camping, hiking, gardening or other outdoor activities. The Department of Health suggests that people spending time in these areas wear light colored clothing, that is tightly woven to help spot ticks easily. They also advise to wear enclosed shoes, long sleeves, pants and frequently checking the body for ticks when outdoors and once back inside. After being outdoors the DOH recommends showering to wash off and easily be able to spot any ticks that might still be on your skin.
If there is a tick on the skin it should be removed immediately which will reduce the likelihood of contracting any disease the tick may be carrying. If a rash appears or flu like symptoms arise, a doctor or health care provider should be contacted immediately.