Dangers Ticks Pose
You wouldn't think a little bug could be much of a threat, but when it comes to spreading illness to humans, size doesn't factor into the equation. There are large bugs that present no threat at all to humans, such as the grasshopper and the dragonfly. And tiny, blood-eating pests that can torment, like bed bugs and mites. Size also seems to be irrelevant when it comes to which ticks are more dangerous. The most dangerous of all ticks is the deer tick, also referred to as the black legged tick. This is actually one of the smallest ticks, and it is linked to Lyme disease which is, arguably, one of the worst tick-related diseases. Let's take a look at Lyme disease and other diseases spread by ticks, and discuss ways we can reduce the dangers.
According to the CDC, 95% of confirmed Lyme disease cases were reported in only 14 states. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. And while cases have appeared in all of the United States, even as far as California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts continue to be a hotspot of activity. It makes sense. Lyme disease gets its name from the location it was first documented: Lyme, Connecticut.
Approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported by state health departments to the CDC each year, but this is an extremely low number because Lyme disease is often mistaken for many other diseases which have similar symptoms. Studies suggest that the number of cases is more in line with 300,000 per year.
What is Lyme disease? If you live in our Connecticut or Massachusetts service area, you know what Lyme is. But, for those who are not familiar with it, Lyme begins as a tick-borne infection caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is initially recognizable by a bullseye rash, fever, aches, pains, fatigue, and a sickness in the stomach. When undiagnosed or misdiagnosed it can lead to lifelong medical complications. Long-term symptoms are often mistaken for other, serious, diseases such as fibromyalgia, Alzheimer's, and multiple sclerosis. It can also complicate heart disease.
Lyme is only one of the many diseases passed to humans by ticks. Some of the most noteworthy diseases are Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tick paralysis, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, tularemia, Powassan, and 364D rickettsiosis. Some of these also affect dogs and cats but pets have their own list.
How do ticks get on us?
Before we are exposed to these diseases, ticks have to climb on us and attach themselves to us. Understanding how they do this is quite critical in understanding how to protect yourself from a tick-borne disease.
It is a common belief that ticks fall from trees and land in our hair. That's why we find them on our heads or behind our ears. But this is not the case. Ticks actually have to crawl all the way up your body to get into your hair unless, of course, you laid on the ground somewhere and put your head in a location for a tick to climb right up into your hair.
Ticks use a process called questing to get on us. They wait at the top of a piece of grass with front appendages sticking up in a reaching gesture. When you walk by, they cling to you and begin their long climb to your head--or some other hairy place on your body--though they are not limited to attaching in locations where hair is present. Because ticks climb all the way up, many tick prevention tips involve using this behavior against them: wear light clothing, put insect repellent on your legs, tuck your pants into your socks, wear tall boots, and tuck your shirt in.
Every time you go outside, you have a chance of coming into contact with ticks. And the place you spend most of your "outside" time is probably your backyard. So that is where tick prevention should start.
At American Pest Solutions, we help home and business owners reduce the threat of ticks by helping them reduce ticks. Our Mosquito Guard program has the wonderful added benefit of taking care of ticks too. If you'd like to learn more, or set up service for your property, reach out to the Good Guys today.