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(excerpts) NEW MILFORD — An increasingly common tick-borne disease took the life of a New Milford man this month, and health experts warn that more cases are likely as tick populations flourish in New England.

Michael Yoder died Aug. 8 of liver and kidney failure after a severe case of babesiosis, according to the state medical examiner’s office. He was 55.

Babesiosis is caused by a single-celled protozoan somewhat like the organism that causes malaria. It invades the red blood cells, and in extreme cases can cause anemia so severe that organs fail. Reported cases are on the rise in the state and nationally, and though the disease is rarely fatal it can put people in the hospital for days.
Connecticut has seen an increase in babesiosis cases from 74 in 2011 to 205 in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But fatal cases are relatively rare, according to the state Department of Public Health: Just one death was reported in 2015 and one in 2016.

The disease gives most people flu-like symptoms, including fever, drenching sweats, muscle or joint pain and malaise, according to the state health department. A breakdown of the red blood cells, called hemolytic anemia, is also common. Some patients can be treated as outpatients, requiring treatment only with anti-malarial drugs and antibiotics. But others — generally those whose immune systems have been compromised in some way — can require hospitalization and might need blood transfusions.