The CDC says a relatively new tick-borne disease is now “endemic” in Vermont.
In other words, Babesiosis is in Vermont to stay. The Green Mountain State has seen the fastest rate of increase of any of the 10 states study, even though overall cases are still relatively low.
Transmission can also occur through blood transfusions, transplantation of organs from infected donors, or congenital (mother-to-child) transmission. Babesia infection can be asymptomatic or cause mild to severe illness that can be fatal.
Overall, U.S. tickborne disease cases have increased 25%, from 40,795 reported in 2011 to 50,856 in 2019. Babesiosis trends were assessed in 10 states where babesiosis was reportable during 2011–2019. Incidence increased significantly in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, with the largest increases reported in Vermont (1,602%, from two to 34 cases), Maine (1,422%, from nine to 138), New Hampshire (372%, from 13 to 78), and Connecticut (338%, from 74 to 328).
Unlike the other seven states, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, were not included as states with endemic disease in previous CDC babesiosis surveillance summaries. These three states should now be considered to have endemic transmission comparable to that in other high-incidence states; they have consistently identified newly acquired cases every year during 2011–2019 and documented presence of Babesia microti in the associated tick vector.
Because incidence in Northeastern states, including Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, is increasing, tick prevention messaging, provider education, and awareness of infection risk among travelers to these states should be emphasized, tge CDC said.
Babesiosis can cause illness ranging from asymptomatic or mild to severe; the disease can be fatal, particularly among persons who are immunocompromised or asplenic. Common symptoms include fever, muscle and joint pain, and headache. In certain patients, severe complications can occur, including thrombocytopenia, renal failure, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Babesiosis can be treated using a combination of antimicrobial medications, such as azithromycin and atovaquone.
The first case of human babesiosis acquired in the United States was identified in 1969 on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. In 2011, babesiosis became a nationally notifiable condition. Where babesiosis is reportable, cases are reported to CDC by state health departments.
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