Americans are used to ticks, and the diseases that many of them can spread to humans are well understood by scientists. Tick populations are increasing dramatically, and lyme infection rates are increasing along with the prevalence of other types of tick-borne diseases. Although these are troubling trends, very few deaths occur as a result of tick-borne infection. Despite this, an American woman recently died as a result of Rocky Mountain spotted fever infection. This was the first ever death to occur as a result of Rocky Mountain spotted fever within the state of Wisconsin. Entomologists and other researchers are taking this death as a sign that ticks are becoming more dangerous to humans in America.
Public health officials in Wisconsin are warning residents about Rocky Mountain spotted fever after a resident died from the illness. Officials have not released the woman’s name, but she was reportedly in her fifties and she sustained the tick bite while camping last May. The following June, the woman was diagnosed with the disease, and she died not long afterwards. According to the state health officer, Karen McKeown, this woman’s death was a tragedy that should serve as a reminder to always protect against ticks and other disease spreading bugs while outdoors.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is most prevalent in the northeast and midwest United States. The disease is most often carried by dog ticks, but most disease-spreading ticks in the Wisconsin area are carried by black legged ticks, or deer ticks. Symptoms of the disease include headaches, stomach pains, nausea, rash and fever. If a Rocky Mountain spotted fever infection goes untreated, symptoms can worsen and death could result. In order to avoid ticks, repellent should be applied before setting foot outdoors, and long sleeves are a must if you plan on venturing into wooded areas. Checking yourself for ticks upon arriving home from outdoor excursions will greatly reduce one’s chances of contracting tick-borne diseases.
Do you think that certain tick-borne diseases will begin to infect residents of states that are not typically affected by disease-carrying ticks?