Ticks. Carriers of Lyme.
Like mosquitoes, ticks are vectors, or transmitters, of disease. Though extremely serious, mosquito-borne disease affects only a few thousand individuals in the US each year, while tick-borne disease afflicts tens of thousands.
Unlike mosquitoes, ticks do not grab a blood meal and go on their way. Ticks have beak-like projections that plunge into the skin of their host. Depending on its type, a tick may feed on the host’s blood for hours, days or even weeks. If you find a tick on you, please follow this guide from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and remove it promptly. To reduce the risk of getting a tick on your property, you can utilize professional tick control services.
Charlottesville is host to three major types of ticks,
two of which pose the most serious known threat.
The two that are making the most news lately are the deer tick and the lone star tick,
and both offer about the same amount of creep factor.
DEER TICK – The deer tick is the most publicised threat these days as it’s the most known carrier of Lyme disease. One thing that has been surprising many Glenmore residents is the actual size of the Deer Tick. Most that are being found this year are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. This means that it’s very hard to know that you have a deer tick until it’s been on you for a while.
LONE STAR TICK – This one is less common and upon first look, the lone star tick seems to be less of a threat. This is completely incorrect. The lone star, while larger has the capability to seek out a host meaning they will chase you down and attach to you similar to a mosquito. It doesn’t fly however, it crawls… very quickly. Additionally, they have now been found to carry Lyme disease as well as the new life-long meat allergy bacteria discovered by UVA doctors.
Quick Facts About Ticks
- Although commonly referred to as insects, ticks are technically arachnids.
- Ticks are classified as parasites since they all feed on the blood of host animals.
- Tick species number in the hundreds, but only a handful typically transmits disease to humans.
- The ticks of greatest concern in the US are the blackegged tick (also known as the deer tick in the eastern US), the Lone Star tick, and the dog tick.
- Ticks do not jump or fly. Typically, they transfer to hosts by waiting on tall grass and crawling aboard when a mammal happens by.
- Ticks can be active when the ground temperature is above 45 degrees Farenheit.
- Ticks that endanger humans also choose deer hosts and are usually prevalent wherever deer are found.
- Tick bites often go undetected because they do not hurt or itch.
- Ticks that enter your home can live there for extended periods.
- There are two families of ticks: hard ticks (Ixodidae) and soft ticks (Argasidae).
- Hard ticks have three distinct life stages: larva, nymph and adult.
- Soft ticks may go through a number of nymph stages before reaching adult status.
- Tick larvae are not believed to carry pathogens. The pathogens are received from the host when the larvae take their first blood meal. They will not feed again until nymph stage.l
- The nymph stage is believed to be most responsible for infecting humans as nymphs are small and can more easily go undetected on the skin.
Named after the Connecticut town in which it was first found, Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick-borne disease in the United States, with diagnoses in every state except Hawaii. There are nearly 30,000 cases reported by the Centers for Disease Control each year. If caught early, Lyme disease responds well to a variety of antibiotics. Unfortunately, Lyme is not the easiest disease to diagnose. The telltale bull’s eye rash is only one of the many symptoms of Lyme, which also includes fever, fatigue and joint pain.
Although it does affect humans, ehrlichiosis is most commonly found in deer and dogs. The bacteria kills white blood cells causing headaches, fatigue, and aches. Luckily, ehrlichiosis is treated with a series of antibiotics.
Babesiosis is transmitted by the bite of infected Ixodes scapularis ticks and is most common in the Northeast and upper Midwest regions of the United States. For most people, there are no symptoms. For those who do experience symptoms, there are effective treatment options available.
-Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a potentially fatal bacterial disease resulting in symptoms such as fever, headache, rash, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, muscle pain, and lack of appetite. It is spread by the American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick, and brown dog tick. It is most commonly found in North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. RMSF can be treated with antibiotics.
Anaplasmosis is most commonly spread by the bite of the blacklegged and the western blacklegged tick. Symptoms of the disease can include fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches and will usually begin within one to two weeks of the initial bite. Early treatment with the antibiotic doxycycline can help prevent severe illness—including respiratory failure, bleeding problems, and organ failure—as well as death.
-Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness
The southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI) can often be confused with Lyme disease as both result in a similar circular rash that looks like a bull’s-eye. STARI is spread by the bite of the lone star tick. In addition to the rash, STARI can result in symptoms such as fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain. Treatment is still being researched but most physicians use oral antibiotics to treat patients.
-Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever
Tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF) is a bacterial infection spread by the bite of a “soft tick.” It can result in recurring symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and nausea. It is most common in the western region of the United States, especially mountainous areas. In Texas, exposure can happen in caves.
Tularemia is a disease that can affect both people and animals, including rabbits, hares, and rodents. It can be spread by the the bite of ticks, as well as contact with infected animals, contaminated water, and more. Symptoms can vary widely depending on the form of infection; when infected through a tick bite, symptoms can include irritation, inflammation, skin ulcers, and the swelling of lymph glands. This can be treated with antibiotics; treatment will usually last between 10 to 21 days on average.