Ticks are more than annoying pests that cause itchy sores from their bites. They’re also disease-spreading agents who prey on both animals and humans. Ticks are 8-legged parasitic insects that bite and latch onto a host. They feed on the blood of their host. Once they’ve bitten a host, ticks secrete saliva that decreases blood clotting. This secretion allows the blood to flow more freely to them. In the process of taking blood from their hosts, ticks have the capability to spread dangerous diseases.
Types of Ticks
There are hundreds of types of ticks found throughout the world. About 90 species are native to the United States. We classify the species of ticks into two groups: hard and soft. The most common are the hard ticks. There are four hard tick species that are most common throughout the US:
- American Dog Tick
- Lone Star Tick
- Deer Tick
- Brown Dog Tick
Every one of these parasites poses a threat to its hosts. The American Dog tick carries bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Victims of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever suffer from headaches, muscle aches, and fever. This disease signals its presence by a rash and has the potential to be fatal if not caught and treated quickly. The disease causes damage to the organs, especially the kidneys and heart. The Lone Star tick is known to carry bacteria that cause human ehrlichiosis. Ehrlichiosis also affects the organs and causes fever, headache, body aches, and other symptoms. Additionally, Brown Dog Ticks are also known for spreading Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Especially in the Midwest
Deer ticks are known to carry and transmit Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a dangerous disease that causes a bullseye-shaped rash and potential damage to the heart and nervous system. In addition, most of the ticks a person will encounter will be an adult female hard tick. If you or your pet have had a tick bite and are experiencing any symptoms such as a rash, nausea, or fever, it is important to see your doctor right away.
Where are Ticks Found?
Ticks can be found in places where they have a reliable source of food and shelter. In particular, they mostly feed on wild animals and livestock. Therefore, wooded areas and fields are a common habitat for ticks. Areas of tall grass where animals or pets are likely to frequent are also an area where these parasites frequent. It is important to realize that ticks use a hunting tactic called “questing.” Questing is when a tick climbs up vegetation to reach a larger host that may pass by, such as a deer or even a human.
How to Remove a Tick Safely
Finding a tick attached to you or your pet is startling. It’s important to remove it safely and carefully. However, if the removal is not done correctly, you risk infection. To remove a tick, it is best to use tweezers and pull from behind the mouth of the tick. After removing the tick, keep it in a plastic bag. In case there are any further medical issues, it is helpful to have the insect for identification purposes. Otherwise, carefully dispose of ticks. Flush them down the toilet or place them in a plastic bag and throw it away in the garbage.
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