Learn more about tick-borne diseases and how to avoid tick bites
Learn more about tick-borne diseases and how to avoid tick bites!
Ticks are tiny bugs most likely found in shady, damp, brushy, wooded, or grassy areas (especially in tall grass), including your own backyard. Different kinds of ticks feed on the blood of mammals (including people, dogs, cats, deer, and mice), birds, or reptiles (snakes and turtles, for example). Ticks do not fly or jump! They attach to animals or people that come into direct contact with them like walking in tall grass, or in bushes in the forest. Deer Ticks, Dog Ticks and Lone Star Ticks can be found everywhere.
Black-legged ticks, in other name deer ticks, are responsible for spreading Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Powassan virus. The highest risk of being bitten by this kind of tick occurs throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons. Black-legged tick nymphs are the size of a poppy seed and adults are the size of a sesame seed.
Dog ticks are responsible for spreading Rocky Mountain spotted fever and certain types of tularemia. In general, only the adult dog tick will bite humans. The highest risk of being bitten by a dog tick occurs during the spring and summer seasons. Adult dog ticks are about the size of a watermelon seed.
Lone Star Ticks
Lone star ticks are not a significant source of human illness but can spread tularemia, ehrlichiosis and southern tick-associated rash illness. Lone star tick saliva can be irritating but redness and discomfort at a bite site does not necessarily indicate any infection. For some people this kind of tick’s bite can cause allergy to red meat. The nymph and adult females most frequently bite humans.
One of the most important things you can do is check yourself for ticks once a day. Remember that checking is very important, check your child and pets too, and if you have a tick, remove it as soon as possible!
Check the following areas very carefully!
- Inside and behind the ears
- Along your hairline
- Back of your neck
- Behind your knees
- Between your toes
Ticks are tiny, so look for new "freckles"!
If you find a tick attached to your skin, don't panic. Use a pair of fine point tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible (and as close to the tick’s head as possible) and pull straight out with steady pressure! Pay attention to not squeeze the tick because their saliva contains the bacteria which can cause diseases. (Not every tick carries infections.) Don’t apply kerosene, petroleum jelly, nail polish, or a hot match tip to remove the tick, because these can cause injuries for you or your loved ones.
- Lyme disease
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are spread by tiny, infected deer ticks. Both people and animals can have Lyme disease.
In the United States, Lyme disease most commonly occurs in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions and in the upper Midwest. Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. The tick usually must be attached to a person for at least 24 hours before it can spread the germ. Lyme disease can occur during any time of the year. Young ticks (nymphs) are most active during the warm weather months between May and July. Adult ticks are most active during the fall and spring but may also be out searching for a host any time that winter temperatures are above freezing.
Symptoms: Early stage (days to weeks): The most common early symptom is a rash (erythema migrans) where the tick was attached. It often, but not always, starts as a small red area that spreads outward, clearing up in the center so it looks like a donut. Symptoms are fever, headache, stiff neck, sore and aching muscles, and joints, fatigue and swollen glands. These can occur any time after the tick bites you. Even though these symptoms may go away by themselves, without medical treatment, some people will get the rash again in other places on their bodies, and many will experience more serious problems.
Later stages (weeks to years): If untreated, people with Lyme disease can develop late-stage symptoms even if they never had a rash. The joints, nervous system and heart are most commonly affected. About 60% of people with untreated Lyme disease get arthritis in their knees, elbows and/or wrists. The arthritis can move from joint to joint and become chronic.
- Babesiosis or Babesia
Babesiosis is a disease caused by a microscopic parasite that infects red blood cells. Babesiosis occurs in many areas in the northeastern United States.
Babesiosis is spread by the bite of an infected black-legged (deer) tick. The longer a tick remains attached and feeding, the higher the likelihood that it may spread the parasite. The tick must generally be attached to a person for at least 24-36 hours before it can spread the germ. Babesiosis can occur during any time of the year. The parasite that causes babesiosis is spread by infected black-legged ticks. Young ticks (nymphs) are most active during the warm weather months and adult ticks are most active during the fall and spring but they can appear in winter also.
Symptoms of babesiosis usually begin to appear from 1 to 8 weeks after being bitten by an infected tick!
Symptoms: Most people who are infected by the parasite will show very mild signs of illness or no signs at all. These symptoms can be fever, chills, headache, achy joints and muscles, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dark urine. Symptoms can last for up to several months. The elderly, people without a healthy spleen, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop potentially life-threatening symptoms. Babesiosis can be treated with medication; however, serious complications requiring a blood transfusion and/or kidney dialysis can occur if the disease is not recognized and treated early.
Prevention begins with you!
Take steps to reduce your chances of being bitten by any tick. Ticks are most active during warm weather, generally late spring through fall. Ticks cling to vegetation and are most numerous in brushy, wooded or grassy habitats. When you are outside in an area likely to have ticks (e.g. brushy, wooded or grassy places). Prevention is important. When you are walking in forests or in highly infected areas take some preventive actions: dress up properly (high shank socks, long-sleeved t-shirts, trousers …) and use tick repellents like SonicGuard, a non-chemical ultrasonic tick repellent is.
Try to avoid the highly infected areas (long grass, bushes) and protect yourself and your family with a chemical-free SonicGuard Tick Repeller.