Living with Lyme: a deeper look beyond Lyme and into other deadly infections tick carry

Living with Lyme

CENTRAL NEW YORK, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Throughout Lyme Awareness Month, we’ve introduced you to Lyme warriors, researchers, and doctors on the front lines of treatment and medical breakthroughs.

For our final segment of this month’s Living with Lyme series, NewsChannel 9’s Nicole Sommavilla takes a deeper dive into what ticks are carrying, beyond Lyme.

It can’t be said enough. These tiny ticks are a big problem.

“It’s kind of a terrifying disease,” said Infectious Disease Physician Kris Paolino at Upstate Medical University.

The big one we hear about is Lyme. It has enough challenges of its own, but the other co-infections marching their way through Central New York can be even more dangerous.

“Things like Anaplasma and Babesia,” said Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Disease Ecology at SUNY ESF, Brian Leydet.

Leydet spends a lot of time collecting ticks and tracking what he calls an invasion. He knows they’re carrying a multitude of diseases that attack separate parts of the body.

“Babesia is a completely different organism and it needs different types of treatment.”

brian leydet

Inside the walls of Upstate Medical University, Paolino is treating patients with the parasite Babesia.

“It bursts out of the red blood cells and goes on and all the baby parasites come out,” he said.

It can cause fevers, headaches, anemia, and more.

If it isn’t treated and you have an acute infection and you’re hospitalized, it can kill somebody.

Kris Paolino

The other ticking time bomb is Anaplasma. It’s an intracellular bacterial infection also found in Central New York ticks.

A drug that treats Lyme can also treat Anaplasma but it rarely comes with a rash, so it’s often missed.

“Your platelets can drop, you can have potential bleeding issues, you can have multi-organ failure.”

kris paolino

Paolino says last year, Anaplasma took the life of someone in Binghamton.

With ticks on the move, the best way to protect ourselves is through prevention. Doctors and researchers will tell you to use repellent, stay on man-made paths, and check for ticks.

“If we can prevent the ticks from even biting in the first place, that would be huge,” said Paolino.

To learn more about ticks, the infections and diseases they carry, and how to protect yourself, visit the CNY Lyme Alliance.

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