September 8, 2012

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Precautions for tick-borne disease extend “beyond lyme.”

The majority of human-biting ticks in the North—members of the blacklegged tick species—cause Lyme disease, but these same ticks do not commonly bite humans south of mid-Virginia. Biologist Graham Hickling of the University of Tennessee, co-author of the paper, says many patients in Southeastern states, who become sick from a tick-bite, assume they have Lyme disease, but the odds of that being the case are low. “Ticks in the eastern U.S. collectively carry more than a dozen agents that can cause human disease,” says Hickling. “Here in Tennessee we regularly collect lone star ticks that test positive for Ehrlichia, [a tick-borne bacterial infection]. Lone stars are an aggressive species that account for most of the human bites that we see in this region. So ehrlichiosis has to be a big concern, yet most people have never heard of it.”

And I don’t want it.

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