Ticks have long been feared by humans and animals alike for their ability to transmit Lyme disease, but a new illness has people fearing for their lives. A deadly tick-borne illness, known as babesiosis, is also carried by deer ticks, according to USA Today.
The disease is caused by a microscopic parasite that attacks blood cells, which then cause flu-like symptoms, the media outlet reports. These symptoms may make it difficult for doctors to appropriately diagnose the problem.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that the number of cases jumped from six to 119 between 2001 and 2008 in New York's lower Hudson Valley. The most significant threats have been detected in parts of the Northeast and Upper Midwest.
A woman in her 60s succummed to the virus last month, marking the first reported death in Minnesota, according to CBS. The female patient died from a brain infection just a month after her illness took form, possibly leaving her without the opportunity to purchase a life insurance policy.
There is no drug to cure the disease once a person has been infected, so experts believe prevention is key. The CDC is advising individuals with compromised immune systems to avoid tick-infested woods, especially in warmer months, USA Today reports.