Officials Warn of New Tick-Borne Illness

Wood ticks are common on the Cape. But deer ticks that carry Lyme disease are much smaller, the size of a freckle.

Wood ticks are common on the Cape. But deer ticks that carry Lyme disease are much smaller, the size of a freckle.

BARNSTABLE – There’s a new tick-borne illness for people on the Cape and Islands to worry about.

It is called Borrelia miyamotoi and it gives infected people similar to Lyme tick disease. The treatment is also the same, antibiotics.

The disease was found in Cape Cod deer ticks this past spring.

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“What we’re trying to do now is go back to the tick extractions and see how widely distributed Borrelia miyamotoi has been,” Cape Cod Extension Entymologist Larry Dapsis said.

This makes the fourth disease that people can get by being bitten by deer ticks. Besides Lyme tick disease, the others are anaplasmosis and babesiosis.

“What can happen is some people were being diagnosed for anaplasmosis, which deer ticks carry, but it turned out to be this Borrelia miyamotoi,” he said.

Dapsis said the discovery has repercussions for local doctors.

“We know it’s here at some level. We just don’t know how widely distributed it is and at what rates. But this will be significant news for the medical community because it gives them another thing they have to look at when a patient comes in and presents various symptoms after a tick bite,” he said.

People who have been bitten by a tick can mail it to a lab at the University of Massachusetts to get it tested. Information on how to send in the tick can be found at tickreport.com.

Looking to remove a Tick?

Visit our Ticks on Cape Cod page.