Health Officials Say Tick-Borne Diseases Rising

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota health officials on Friday urged residents to protect themselves against ticks after the number of tick-borne diseases rose to record levels in 2010.

The Minnesota Department of Health said Friday there was a significant increase in the number of anaplasmosis cases last year, more than double what the department had been seeing in recent years.

Anaplasmosis is one of three diseases carried by the blacklegged tick, formerly known as the “deer tick.” The health department reported about 30 percent of the 720 anaplasmosis patients in 2010 required hospitalization. One person died.

State epidemiologist Dave Neitzel said the number of anaplasmosis cases was rivaling Lyme disease in some areas of the state. In Aitkin, Beltrami, Carlton, Cass, Crow Wing and Hubbard counties, those cases exceeded Lyme disease cases in 2010.

The number of Lyme disease cases rose more than 20 percent from 2009, but still trailed the nearly 1,300 reports of Lyme disease.

Besides anaplasmosis and Lyme disease, the other common disease carried by the blacklegged tick in Minnesota is babesiosis, of which there were 56 cases in 2010. That’s up from 31 cases in 2009. Nearly half of the babesiosis cases required hospitalization and one person died.

The most common symptoms of the both anaplasmosis and babesiosis are fever, fatigue and muscle ache, with anaplasmosis characterized by its sudden onset. Lyme disease is known by the rash near the bite.

The increase in tick-borne illness is likely the result of expanded suitable tick habitats across the state, Neitzel said. Ticks require a hot, humid climate and small mammals or deer to feed on. Rather than harm the ticks, the thick layer of snow that covered the ground this winter actually provided insulation and helped tick survival, Neitzel said.

The upshot in illnesses could also be the product of more testing by doctors and using better methods, he said.

The department is stressing the use of DEET- or Permethrin-based repellents. People who’ve been in the woods recently should check themselves thoroughly when they return, as it takes between one and two days for the tick to attach before it bites.

“The quicker you get them off of you the better,” Neitzel said.

It’s not only blacklegged ticks people need to worry about. American dog ticks, or “wood ticks,” have caused Rocky Mountain spotted fever in rare cases, Neitzel said.

WCCO’s Steve Murphy Interviews Dave Neitzel

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • RR

    Ok, so its lunchtime. Just thought I’d pop up real quick to see what’s going on. And then I see this. Lunch is over. THANKS GUYS!!!!
    C’mon, is this photo really necessary?

    • JeriZ23

      Same here, but was in the middle of my second bite of lunch. That is a bad picture, lol.

  • YUCK!!!!

    I agree…YUCK! I think if they put up a picture of Rosey O’Donnel we would get the same idea…..

  • HooDatIS?

    there a tick in my butt
    OOOPs…….its just the GOP sucking the life out of me
    false alarm

  • Lori

    So you put up the bad picture, say these diseases are on the rise and scare us, but what are the symptoms? will wearing bug spray DEET prevent this? There needs to be more to this story than just a funky picture and a big scare.

  • Danni

    Why dont they make a vaccine for lymes ?

    • pat

      They did, but it wasn’t popular so I believe it was disccontinued.

  • Stephanie

    Or, why can I vaccinate my DOG for lymes but can’t vaccinate myself or my children??

    • UpNorthNaturalist

      The human Lyme Disease vaccine proved to be much less effective than it is in domestic animals like dogs, possibly due to a difference in body chemistry. So it lost popularity because it wasn’t really worth getting.

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    […] Health Officials Say Tick-Borne Diseases Rising « CBS Minnesota […]

  • Dennis

    well if they want a area to test more ticks they should come over to my neck of the woods. the ticks are climming the house there so thick out here. can’t walk from the house to the car with out getting a tick or 4.

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