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Medical News and Perspectives |

Emerging Tick-borne Diseases Expand Range Along With Rebounding Deer Populations

Bridget M. Kuehn, MSJ
JAMA. 2013;309(2):124-125. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.116881.
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Babesiosis, a tick-borne disease, is becoming a growing concern in the Northeast and upper Midwest as burgeoning deer populations help spread the malaria-like condition, according to data presented at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) meeting in November.

Lyme disease remains the most common tickborne illness in the United States, with about 20 000 to 30 000 cases identified each year. But babesiosis, which is caused by the protozoan parasite Babesia microti, has received renewed attention as its range has expanded. Once known as “Nantucket fever” because it was common among individuals living—along with a robust population of deer, a key vector—on that New England coastal island, it is now considered endemic in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

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Growing deer populations are believed to contribute to the spread of babesiosis, a malaria-like illness transmitted by Ixodes scapularis ticks.

(Photo credit: Guy Sagi/iStockphoto.com)
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A malaria-like illness, which is spread by Ixodes scapularis ticks, has become a growing concern in some parts of the country.

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