OCEAN COUNTY (WABC) --Chances are you have heard of Lyme Disease, but the deer tick that causes it can also have Babesiosis. With a new cluster of cases on Ocean County, health officials want people to know about it.
"We do have 7 cases, 5 of which are under investigation," said Victoria Miragliotta, the Director of Administration at the Ocean County Health Department, "in past years, we have had deaths due to this disease, we would like to avoid them if at all possible."
Babesiosis usually causes flu-like symptoms - fever, chills and body aches. If the microscopic parasites attack the red blood cells, it can cause anemia, organ failure and even death.
"Babesiosis, which can be dangerous, even life-threatening in those that are elderly, those without a spleen, and those with compromised immune systems," Miragliotta adds.
Anyone bitten by a tick in the Tri-State Area is at risk. Babesiosis is tricky for two reasons. First, it is often caused by ticks in the tiny nymph stage, which are tough to see. This means that prevention is key. In wooden areas, tuck your pants into socks and use repellant.
It is important to keep in mind, that unlike Lyme Disease, Babesiosis does not cause the bulls-eye rash. It is also important to keep in mind for doctors to test for it, because it can be treated.
As for the 7 people in Ocean County, 6 of them were hospitalized, but all are expected to recover.