Tick-Borne Virus Strain on the Increase Locally

HYANNIS – A recent CDC report has indicated a significant increase in cases across the Northeast of Babesiosis, a disease spread through tick bites. 

Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Entomologist Larry Dapsis said although it has only recently been reported as endemic in northern states such as Vermont, it was already native to the Cape region. 

He added the disease is only found in ten percent of deer ticks, but can cause serious illness for the Cape’s largest demographic.

“The big difference with Babesiosis compared to Lyme, is most of the cases of Babesiosis are people in their 50’s and older, and in particular people that are immunocompromised,” said Dapsis. 

“That’s where we see most of the cases.”

With a warm winter and continued mild temperatures lasting into the shoulder season, Dapsis added that changing climate is encouraging ticks to spread farther and stay active longer. 

“Our winters are getting shorter in duration, they’re getting milder except for a few spikes, changes in precipitation patterns, that’s all going to tip the scales in favor of higher risks of these tick borne diseases.” 

As spring begins and people spend more time outdoors, Dapsis urged residents to wear clothes treated with permethrin to protect from bites. 

More ways to avoid tick bites, including an information video series featuring Dapsis, can be found on the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension’s website here.

The full report from the CDC can be found here.


About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the CapeCod.com News Center in 2019.

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