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Tick Diseases On the Rise. Here's Why.

Posted by Jennifer Smith on 11th Jun 2019

There are new concerns about previously rare types of tick-borne diseases being seen more frequently in the United States. The blacklegged tick, for example, not only spreads Lyme disease it can also transmit a serious virus called powassan that may have killed one man and made another sick in New Jersey.

CBS News' Dr. David Agus told "CBS This Morning" part of what's behind the rise in ticks in parts of the U.S. where they are traditionally found is climate change.

"The weather is changing. Climate is changing and there are more mice, there are more food for the ticks," he said. "As reforestation happens, as climate change happens, different areas of the country are getting more of these."

Though there were about 60,000 cases of tick-borne diseases reported last year, Agus estimates that the real number of cases is probably over 300,000.

Some ways you can avoid tick-borne disease when spending time outdoors is to wear insect repellent with DEET, tuck your pants into your socks, avoid tall grass, shower immediately after being outside and have someone check your body. If you get one though, time is of the essence, Agus warned.

"Take a straight tweezers, pull straight out and put the tick into alcohol. The quicker you remove it the better, cause it takes time before it can eject its saliva into you. The saliva is what contains the bacteria and the virus," he said.

While most diseases like Lyme are treatable, there have been two cases of the powassan virus reported in New Jersey. It is not treatable.

"It's got a 10 percent mortality rate and 50 percent of people who get this virus have permanent neurologic injury. So have someone search you for ticks and pull them off right afterward. Avoid it. Wear DEET."

Written by CBS News. 

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