Ask the docs 4/23 | The Spokesman-Assessment

By Eve Glazier, M.D., and Elizabeth Ko, M.D.

Andrews McMeel Syndication

Dear Doctors: The information right here in Atlanta is speaking a few new tick illness known as the heartland virus. Our household spends a variety of time outside, so it’s one thing we’re apprehensive about. What are you able to inform us about it? It looks like ticks are an even bigger downside yearly.

Dear Reader: Due to the gentle local weather in your a part of the nation, ticks are a year-round concern. And with spring climate warming a lot of the remainder of the nation, areas that get a winter respite from the tiny parasites are seeing their return.

There are greater than 80 species of ticks within the United States. Only a handful – biologists estimate from 10 to 12 species – generally chunk people. That nonetheless poses a hazard as a result of, as most of us know, tick bites can transmit parasites, micro organism and viruses.

In current years, the geographic vary of assorted tick species has been increasing. This has led to a leap within the variety of tick-borne infections reported every year. At the identical time, biologists proceed to determine new pathogens carried by ticks that trigger illness in people. Among these is the heartland virus that you just’re asking about.

Different species of ticks carry totally different ailments. For the heartland virus, it’s the Lone Star tick. It’s a reddish-brown tick with a rounded physique. Adults are about one-quarter of an inch lengthy. Females have a white splotch on their backs, the so-called “Lone Star.” In males, white markings on the edges of the physique resemble a horseshoe. It inhabits the southeastern, south-central and japanese states and is the commonest tick in Georgia.

We have beforehand written about how a chunk from a Lone Star tick can result in alpha-gal syndrome, by which the one that was bitten turns into allergic to pink meat. Now, researchers at Emory University in Atlanta have discovered that the Lone Star tick has change into a possible provider of the heartland virus. It’s a uncommon illness, with about 50 instances recognized since its discovery in Missouri in 2009. However, as is widespread with ailments that well being care suppliers aren’t conversant in but, the precise variety of instances might be larger.

Symptoms are in keeping with different tick-borne ailments, together with fever, headache, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue and muscle or joint ache. Diagnosis is by way of a affected person’s bodily signs, their historical past of tick publicity and applicable laboratory assessments. There aren’t any vaccines or drugs to forestall or deal with an infection with heartland virus. Instead, sufferers obtain supportive care that addresses their signs.

The greatest protection is to guard your self. A tick perches on a little bit of vegetation, legs outstretched, and waits for a number to brush up in opposition to it. So cowl up when outside, ideally in light-colored garments, which make ticks extra seen. Be vigilant about checking your garments, hair and pores and skin for ticks if you return from an outing. And you’ll want to test your pets.

If bitten, use tweezers to understand the tick as near the pores and skin as potential. Remove with a gradual, even stress, then clear the world with cleaning soap and water. If signs develop, it’s very important to hunt medical care.

Send your inquiries to askthedoctors@mednet.ucla.edu.

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