Connecticut man dies from tick-borne illness

Officials say a 55-year-old Connecticut man died after contracting a tick-borne illness.

The state medical examiner's office says Michael Yoder, of New Milford, died Aug. 8 of liver and kidney failure after contracting Babesiosis from a tick bite.

Yoder's wife, Wendy, tells The News-Times her husband had a stomach bug for weeks, but by the time he was diagnosed it was too late.

Babesiosis is a disease caused by a parasite that gives people flu-like symptoms. In severe cases, the disease can cause anemia that leads to organ failure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported an increase in Babesiosis cases in the state, from 74 in 2011 to 205 in 2014. Still, fatal cases remain low with one death reported in 2015 and in 2016.

The CDC says that Babesiosis is caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells and are spread by certain ticks. In the United States, tickborne transmission is most common in particular regions and seasons: it mainly occurs in parts of the Northeast and upper Midwest and usually peaks during the warm months.

Although many people who are infected with Babesia do not have symptoms, for those who do effective treatment is available. Babesiosis is preventable, if simple steps are taken to reduce exposure to ticks.

Because Babesia parasites infect and destroy red blood cells, babesiosis can cause a special type of anemia called hemolytic anemia. This type of anemia can lead to jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and dark urine.

Babesiosis can be a severe, life-threatening disease, particularly in people who:

-do not have a spleen;
-have a weak immune system for other reasons (such as cancer, lymphoma, or AIDS);
-have other serious health conditions (such as liver or kidney disease); or
-are elderly.

Complications of babesiosis can include:

-a low and unstable blood pressure;
-severe hemolytic anemia (hemolysis);
-a very low platelet count (thrombocytopenia);
-disseminated intravascular coagulation (also known as “DIC” or consumptive coagulopathy), which can lead to -blood clots and bleeding;
-malfunction of vital organs (such as the kidneys, lungs, and liver); or
death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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