Science and Tech


Tick-borne disease babesiosis now endemic in 10 states

The CDC says more states have been added to its list of places the tick-borne disease has been spreading.
Tick on skin.
Posted at 2:39 PM, Mar 17, 2023

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that it has monitored a significant increase in babesiosis, a tick-borne illness that increased in prevalence from 2011 through 2019. It is now considered endemic in 10 states. 

The CDC said Friday that Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont will join Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin as states where the illness is endemic. All 10 states have seen a rise in cases. 

The CDC is advising blood donation centers to screen for babesiosis in 15 states, including the 10 where it is endemic.

Overall, there was a 25% increase in tick-borne diseases reported to the CDC, going from 40,795 reported in 2011 to 50,856 in 2019.

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From 2011 to 2019, there were 16,456 cases of babesiosis reported nationwide. Of those, 98% were from the 10 states where it is considered endemic. 

The CDC said babesiosis can cause illness ranging from asymptomatic or mild to severe; the disease can be fatal.

Experts say babesiosis can cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue. People most vulnerable include those who do not have a spleen, have a weak immune system, have other serious health conditions such as liver or kidney disease, or are elderly.

Symptoms generally appear within a week, the CDC says, but can take longer.