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County reports on tick-borne illnesses

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Engorged ticks.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Engorged ticks.

According to a newly released report by the Suffolk County Department of Health’s Tick and Vector-borne Diseases Task Force, between 2010 and 2014 the incidence of several tick-borne illnesses rose each year.

Meanwhile, the number of Lyme disease cases reported during the same period peaked in 2011 and has since dropped off.

Overall, the task force found, more cases of common tick-related illnesses were reported on the East End during 2010 and 2014 than anywhere else in Suffolk County.

A total of 1,304 Lyme disease cases were reported in Suffolk County between 2010 and 2014, the task force found.

The task force recorded 331 cases of ehrlichiosis between 2010 and 2014. From 1992 to 1996, there were just two cases recorded.

The rate of babesiosis, a tick-borne illness caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells, also climbed steadily between 2010 and 2014, with a total of 859 cases. Between 1992 and 1996, there were just 121.

While zero cases of anaplasmosis — another tick-borne disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilium — were reported between 1992 and 2009, a total of 152 were recorded between 2010 and 2014.

The overall rise in tick-related illnesses can be attributed to Suffolk County’s ever-increasing deer population and dense concentration of woodlands, said Dr. John Rasweiler, a physician and member of the Suffolk County Tick Control Advisory Committee.

“It really is a crisis,” Dr, Rasweiler said in a TimesReview interview. “In my circle of friends and acquaintances, I know three people who are permanently or semi-permanently disabled by Lyme disease and two others who have recently gotten out of the hospital for babesiosis or ehrlichiosis.”

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