New Tick-Borne Bacterium Infecting Humans

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bacteriaA bacterium carried by ticks and otherwise rare or even absent in the upper Midwest was finding its way there a few years ago. Unnamed but part of the Ehrlichia genus, the bacterium caused flu-like symptoms in dozens of people there, according to Fox News and the Mayo Clinic.

The discovery of the new bacterium came when an analyst with the Mayo Clinic found an anamoly in a blood sample and spoke up. The CDC, several universities, and public health departments joined forces to look more closely at the “bug”.

They found the bacterium, which infects people with ehrlichiosis, is new to the Upper Midwest region of the U.S. Increased reports of the resulting illness, ehrlichiosis, caused the MN Department of Health to put out an advisory in 2010. It isn’t clear if this new bacterium was to blame back then.

The bacterium is transmitted to humans when they are bitten by the infected tick. It then attacks white blood cells and can cause fever, headache, body aches and fatigue. In severe cases, ehrlichiosis can result in damage to the lungs, brain, and kidneys.

Ticks can spread other diseases too, so taking care to avoid them is important.

You can avoid infection of these bacterium by avoiding tick bites. This means if you are going to be active outdoors in the summer months when they are prevalent, cover up. Ticks like warm, dark, spaces and will crawl to your head, ears, and other areas to latch on. By wearing a hat and consistently checking for the little guys, you can reduce your risk of a bite.

Running your hat, clothing, and picnic blanket through the dryer when you get home will also get rid of any ticks that may have hitched a ride. Similarly, a hot shower will get rid of those that haven’t attached themselves to you.