10 States Where Rare and Exotic Diseases Lurk
Nearly all cases of malaria in the U.S. are imported from abroad, but a related disease called babesiosis ("bab-EE-see-OH-sis") has been indigenous to the coastal northeast for decades.
The first person known to have contracted the Babesia parasite was bitten by a rodent tick in 1968 while vacationing on Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts. The disease remains prevalent on the island, where 60% of rodents are estimated to carry Babesia and 16 of the state's 78 cases in 2009 occurred. The disease damages red blood cells and can lead to severe anemia, especially in the elderly or people with weak immune systems.
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