Ticks As Disease Carriers
Certain ticks carry the causal organisms of such diseases as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. It is for this reason that it is important to remember to save any tick that is found attached to you or your family. Save the tick in a vial or Ziploc with a damp cotton ball or paper towel. (This method keeps the tick alive longer or hydrated. The tick can be tested for B. burgdorferi using the cheaper IFA test as opposed to more expensive PCR test.) If a rash (or other conditions develop) within the following four weeks, take the tick and the person involved to a doctor.
Proper identification of the tick and timely treatment is of utmost importance when dealing with organisms associated with ticks especially in areas where ticks are know to carry Lyme Disease.
Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete (or type of bacteria), called Borrelia burgdorferi, which affects humans. This disease organism is vectored principally by a hard tick, Ixodes dammini, which commonly attacks white-tailed deer. Lyme disease was first recognized and reported as a cluster of cases which occurred around Lyme, Connecticut in 1975. Since then, three areas in the United States are now identified where this disease organism is known to be endemic, or occurring naturally. These are areas of the Northeast (in coastal areas from northern Virginia to southern Maine,) the northern Midwest (Minnesota and Wisconsin) and the West (parts of California, Oregon, Utah and Nevada.) Most occur in the northeastern United States, but cases of Lyme Disease have been reported in at least 25 states.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can be severe, including acute headache to more serious nervous system impairment, symptoms resembling rheumatoid arthritis, expanding red rash on or near the tick bite, low grade fever, abdominal and joint pain, dizziness and stiff neck. Most of the cases occur during the summer, because this is the time people will be out hiking in areas infested by the tick vector, and might receive a bite from an infected tick. Persons living in or visiting the Lyme disease areas who develop these symptoms after receiving a tick bite should consult their physician, and explain that they received a tick bite and suspect Lyme disease. Effective treatments for the disease are available to physicians.
Ixodes dammini has a rather complex two-year life cycle. Eggs are deposited in the spring and the tiny larvae emerge several seeks later. These immature ticks feed once during the summer, usually for two days on the blood of small mammals such as field mice. Larvae molt the following spring into nymphs, which also feed once (for 3-4 days) during the summer, either on field mice or larger mammals such as dogs, deer or humans. It is the nymphal stage of Ixodes dammini which is most likely to attack and bite humans. These nymphs will then molt into adults in the fall. Adult ticks attach themselves to a host, usually the white-tailed deer, where they then mate. The adult male ticks then fall off the host and die, and the females obtain the blood meal necessary for successful egg production. In areas where Lyme disease is highly endemic, such as the northeastern United States, upwards of 80-90% of the Ixodes dammini ticks collected in the field have the causal organism (B. burgdorferi) in their bodies.
The principles of tick management will be much the same for Ixodes dammini as for other ticks, except that I. dammini occurs primarily in field and wooded areas rather than yards or urban and suburban parks.
Pest control professionals are often asked how to remove ticks from the skin of people and pets. The removal of attached ticks is addressed in this article. If you have health related concerns you should contact your doctor or other professional that is trained in the medical field.
There are many opinions, facts and fables to sort through when faced with the problem of tick bites or attached ticks. Your best bet is to keep it simple and steer clear of solutions not suggested or approved by doctors or veterinarians. An attached tick can easily transmit diseases to from one animal to another as it feeds on its victim. The disease that concerns most people is Lyme disease. Most people want to remove attached to reduce the risks of diseases that can be transmitted by the pest as well as chances of an infection from the foreign object imbedded in the skin.Most health professionals agree that smothering ticks with petroleum jelly, finger nail polish or other such substances do little to reduce chances of infection or contracting disease. A tick that is coated or smothered still has enough oxygen to live long enough to continue its feeding. It is during this feeding that transmission of organisms takes place. More drastic measures such as burning the tick or killing it with a sharp object can actually increase chances of more fluids being released into the tick’s host.Attached ticks can be removed using small tipped tweezers. Grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible will give you a better chance of removing the tick whole. Ticks can excrete substances that help the pest adhere to its host and they also have mouthparts that help them to hang on their host as they feed. Holding the tick with your tweezers, slowly but firmly pull the tick away from the skin. If you have health concerns of any kind you can release the tick into a container of alcohol. The container should be labeled with any information that could be helpful to medical professionals. This information can include date, location or other related facts including the victim’s name, age, etc. Once you have removed the tick from skin and the tick has been disposed of or placed in a container, wash your hands as well as the tweezers or any other object the tick (or fluids from the tick) may have contacted. Objects used to remove or dispose of ticks as well as the sight of the tick bite should be disinfected. The purpose of this article is to help remove a tick that has attached itself to the skin of a person or pet. Medical questions should be directed to a medical professional. If a person or pet develops any suspicious symptoms or behavior, contact a medical professional. If you are interested in products of any kind that are advertised as tools for tick removal, check with your family doctor or veterinarian. Health professionals will know which products have been proven to be safe or effective.
How We Can Help
Eliminate Tick Habitat
Deer ticks are not out in the middle of your lawn for the most part, they live where yards border wooded areas. We can apply the appropriate chemical in a granular or liquid form to these areas to reduce populations around your landscape. Other areas where ticks live and breed are around ornamental plantings and gardens as well as anywhere it is shaded and there are leaves with high humidity.
Please feel free to Contact Us for an evaluation of your property and to obtain a quote. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Reduce your families chances of contracting a tick borne illness.
Fact: Lyme Disease Cases in New England
2002 7807 Cases
2003 4079 Cases
2004 3630 Cases
Clearly the numbers are coming down through education and preventative measures. Call us today.
Even through preventative measures it is still possible to contract tick borne illness. Using our preventative measures will help cut down the quantity of ticks but nothing can completely eradicate the species. We do not assume any responsibility for anyone contracting any illness and/or the costs related to it.