A tick-borne disease that can cause symptoms that are worse than Lyme disease has been found in Central New York.

The disease, which was discovered so recently it doesn't even have a formal name, has been diagnosed in a least two patients at Upstate Medical University, according to Syracuse.com.

The disease is carried by deer ticks, and called Borrelia miyamotoi disease, or BMD. The CDC adds the disease is sometimes called hard tick relapsing fever. Symptoms can include fever as high as 104 degrees, chills, fatigue, severe headache, and joint and muscle pain.

Brian Leydet, a professor and tick expert at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, tells Syracuse.com the bacterium has been found in 2 percent of ticks in Central New York, compared to the Hudson Valley, where 10-15% of ticks are infected. “It’s nothing like Lyme disease, where you’ve got 30 to 50 percent of ticks infected, but it’s still a concern,” he said.

Because so little is known about BMD, it could be mistaken for Lyme disease, or missed entirely. The symptoms are similar to, but worse than Lyme disease. BMD does not leave the telltale Lyme rash, either. The good news is the same antibiotics used to treat Lyme have been successful with BMD. The CDC recommends specific tests be used to diagnose BMD.

As with Lyme disease, the best way to keep yourself safe is to protect yourself against tick bites.

You can take several precautions to prevent exposure to ticks:

  • Use insect repellents containing DEET
  • Wear light-colored long sleeves and pants, to prevent bites and to easily spot ticks
  • Avoid bushy and wooded areas
  • Check thoroughly for ticks after spending time outdoors.
  • Tuck your pants into socks
  • Check everyone, including pets, frequently and at the end of each day, and remove all ticks promptly and properly.


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