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Lari: Lyme disease—the other pandemic

0 3 years ago

Lyme disease is the most common and the fastest-growing vector-borne disease in the country, and constitutes a significant public health threat, with 476,000 new cases each year from 2010 to 2018. This is a zoonotic bacterial infection transmitted to humans by the bite of infected black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, found in 56 of 58—or 97%—of all counties in California.

Ticks are arachnids that attach to humans or animals to feed on blood. They are called vectors because when they feed on a Lyme-infected animal, they transmit it to the next human or animal they bite. The primary infective agent of Lyme is the spirochete bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi.

There is a misplaced impression that Lyme disease does not exist in California. In reality, tick season is year-round in California; a recent study found disease-carrying ticks near beaches, at equal rates to woodland habitats, in parts of northwestern California. A single bite can transmit many diseases, termed co-infections, which makes the illness severe and complicated. The bite, unlike that of a mosquito, does not cause immediate irritation. In addition, nymphal ticks are the size of poppy seeds that are hard to detect.

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