May 17, 2023
By the time spring rolls around here in Maine, many of us have cabin fever and are ready to head outdoors to work in the yard, hike a nearby trail, or simply enjoy the fresh air. It’s a great time of year but it does have its drawbacks – ticks. While most residents are well aware of ticks and their connection to Lyme disease, it’s not the only tick-borne illness around. In fact, in recent weeks, there’s been much ado about Babesiosis Disease and the increasing number of cases in the Northeast including right here in Maine. According to the CDC, there were nine reported cases of Babesiosis Disease in Maine in 2011 but in 2019, there were 138. That’s a significant jump and clearly shows that this particular illness is becoming more prevalent.
Stats from the 2020 Maine Surveillance Report
While you can take a look at the above-referenced report on Maine.gov, we thought we’d share some of the data here.
- There were cases of Babesiosis disease reported in 11 out of 16 counties
- The counties with the most cases per 100,000 residents were Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc counties
- The highest infection rate was in the 65+ age group
- 81% reported an outdoor exposure
- August and October had the most reported cases
So, what is Babesiosis disease?
Babesiosis is a disease caused by tiny parasites that infect red blood cells. Babesiosis is most commonly transmitted to a person through the bite of an infected deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). It can also be spread through transfusion of contaminated blood, via an organ transplant if the donor was infected, and mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy or delivery.
Symptoms of Babesiosis disease
As is the case with other tick-borne diseases, the infected person may not notice or develop any symptoms at all while others may notice the following symptoms:
- Fever & chills
- Headaches & body aches
- Extreme fatigue
- Jaundice caused by hemolytic anemia
Symptoms don’t show up right away, but usually within a few weeks or months of an infected tick bite.
Should you be worried about Babesiosis disease?
While Babesiosis disease is treatable, there have been rare cases where it proved fatal. That said, this particular disease has been around for almost 50 years including in the Northeast region. There is ongoing discussion of why it has been increasing year over year and experts have suggested climate change as a factor. Of course, it’s also been pointed out that the tick population has been growing for several years now as well.
Regardless of why it’s a larger problem than 10 years ago, Maine residents should be aware of all tick-borne illnesses in our state and take the proper precautions when spending time outside.
Protect yourself from Babesiosis and other tick-borne diseases
When spending time outdoors, be sure to:
- Wear light-colored clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and pants
- Apply an EPA-approved tick repellent to skin and clothing
- Steer clear of known tick-infested areas
- Check your whole body for ticks including clothing and any gear you have with you
Have your property treated for ticks too
While the tick prevention tips above can help you when you’re out and about, it’s also a good idea to have your property treated for ticks.
Here at Pine State Pest Solutions, we offer seasonal tick treatments in Auburn, Turner, and Gardiner as well as throughout our multi-county service area. Our tick control services include three services (April/May, June/July, and September/October). During each visit we’ll spray tick hot spots including but not limited to:
- Low brush
- Fence lines
- Transitional areas where the manicured lawn meets woods
- Surrounding fields & woods
Rather than worry about Babesiosis disease, Lyme disease, and other illnesses spread by tick bites in Maine, contact Pine State to sign up for our seasonal tick treatments today!