Lone star tick poses new threat

James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention photo At right, this photograph shows a female “lone star tick.”

RAPID RIVER — A part-time Rapid River resident has reportedly been bitten by a lone star tick — a type of tick that can cause the people it bites to develop an allergy to red meat.

Ray Surges, owner of “Ray’s Resort” in Rapid River, said he began exhibiting lone star tick-related symptoms in late 2016.

“It started over a year and a half ago,” he said. At this time, Surges did not know about lone star ticks; however, he noticed that he often felt sick after eating.

Surges took a number of measures to alleviate this condition — measures that included the removal of his gallbladder. He said nothing he did provided a long-term solution to his problem.

While avoiding certain foods to see if he had any allergies, however, Surges found something unusual.

“Then, I noticed when I wasn’t eating meat … I was alright,” he said.

According to Surges, his wife read that a bite from a lone star tick can cause affected people to experience symptoms similar to his own when they eat red meat. With this in mind, he went to Green Bay for a blood test, which came back positive.

While he spends about five months in Arizona and a few weeks in Illinois each year, Surges said he is confident that he was bitten by a lone star tick in the Upper Peninsula.

“It’s the only place (I’ve) ever had any ticks on me,” he said.

According to an article from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, recent reports show that lone star ticks have been expanding their range into new parts of the northern and midwestern United States. This includes Michigan, where a lone star tick population has been ­documented.

Dr. Teresa Frankovich, medical director for Public Health, Delta and Menominee Counties, said the lone star tick is not the only type of tick that has expanded its territory in the area recently.

“In general, we’re seeing expanded tick (territories) on multiple fronts,” she said.

Frankovich said there were approximately 10 confirmed and probable cases of lone star tick-related illnesses in the U.P. in 2017.

“The diseases that they can carry are not common in our area,” she said.

She noted that this could change in the future.

“We may see more cases over time,” Frankovich said.