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How bad is Lyme disease in New Hampshire?

If you live in the Northeast, you likely are aware of Lyme disease. If you haven’t been affected by it yourself, you probably know someone who has been. For the uninitiated, Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi that is transmitted through the bite of infected deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks. Deer ticks are often hard to spot, as adults are about the size of a small apple seed, and younger ticks (nymphs) are even smaller, about the size of a poppyseed.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include a tell-tale “bullseye” rash, and flu-like symptoms or hives two days or up to nine weeks post-tick bite, plus facial swelling and trouble breathing. Untreated, the transmitted pathogens can cause paralysis, limb or joint amputation, and/or organ failure. Keep in mind that not all Lyme disease cases actually show the bullseye rash, but it’s common in the majority of cases.

Lyme disease has become an epidemic everywhere in the Northeast. According to TickCheck.com, New Hampshire had 13,603 confirmed cases between 2000-2016, though because it’s hard to diagnose, estimates are generally ten times the reported number of cases, which makes the “real” number closer to 136,030 cases. The State of New Hampshire Department of Health, however, reports that between 2011 and 2015, New Hampshire had 7,255 reported cases, with a likelihood of actually 72,550 cases.

Regardless of these conflicting numbers, two things are for certain — Lyme disease is both vastly underreported and a huge problem here.

Further, the CDC reported in May 2018 that diseases from mosquitoes and ticks have more than tripled since 2004, and Lyme disease definitely not the only tick-borne illness we need to watch out for here in New Hampshire. According to the state, three other tick-borne diseases have been detected here, and those are Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and the rare, but deadly Powassan virus.

Anaplasmosis is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum and is another diseases spread by the black-legged tick (or deer tick), Ixodes scapularis, along with the Western black-legged tick, Ixodes Pacificus. The first symptoms of anaplasmosis typically begin within 1-2 weeks after the bite of an infected tick, and include (but are not limited to) fever, headache, muscle pain, malaise, chills, abdominal pain, cough, and confusion. Unlike Lyme disease, a rash is very uncommon. Anaplasmosis can be a serious illness that can be fatal if not treated correctly, even in previously healthy people. The first line of treatment if anaplasmosis is suspected is the antibiotic Docycycline. According to the New Hampshire Department of Health, between 2011 and 2015, there were 410 cases of anaplasmosis reported, though like Lyme disease, cases are strongly underreported.

Babesiosis is caused by the parasite Babesia microti, and is an infection of red blood cells. Black-legged ticks are the main vectors of this disease as well. Like other vector-borne diseases, many people with Babesiosis feel fine and don’t have any symptoms at all. Some people develop flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, headaches, body aches, nausea, and fatigue. Because the this is an infection of red blood cells, this Babesiosis can cause anemia. People who do not have signs or symptoms usually don’t need to be treated, but there is effective treatment for those who do. Generally, Babesiosis is not considered fatal, however it can be for people with compromised immune systems, those without spleens, a serious health condition like kidney disease, or are elderly. New Hampshire’s Department of Health says that there were 410 cases reported between 2011 and 2015, though again, this number is likely a very low estimate of the “actual” number of cases.

Powassan virus is very rare. Thankfully, only two cases have been reported in New Hampshire in recent years — one in 2013, the other in 2016. Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. Like others, there is no specific treatment, but people with severe cases often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain, because it can be fatal.

While it’s true that tick-borne diseases are rising everywhere, the best way to protect yourself and you family from contracting one is by avoiding ticks all together. Mosquito Squad’s tick control methods are proven to reduce nearly 90% of ticks in your yard for three weeks at a time or your money back. Give us a call at 603-380-4541 to keep yourself and your family protected. We’re here to help you fight the bite, and take your yard back. We look forward to hearing from you!

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