The Tiny Terror: Understanding the Dangers of Tick Borne Illnesses
With the warmer weather upon us, many of us are planning to spend more time outside. Unfortunately, this also means an increased risk of tick bites and tick borne diseases. In this blog, we'll explore some of the most common tick borne illnesses, how to prevent them, and what to do if you or your pet are bitten.
Ticks are tiny arachnids that feed on the blood of animals, including humans. They can transmit a variety of diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Ehrlichiosis.
Lyme disease is the most well-known tick borne illness in the United States. It’s caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, fatigue, headache, and a characteristic rash that looks like a bull’s-eye. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to more serious symptoms, such as joint pain, heart palpitations, and even paralysis.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a bacterial disease that’s transmitted to humans through the bite of infected American dog ticks, Rocky Mountain wood ticks, or brown dog ticks. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that usually appears on the wrists and ankles before spreading to the rest of the body. If left untreated, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be fatal.
Babesiosis is a parasitic disease that’s transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle aches. In severe cases, babesiosis can cause hemolytic anemia, a condition in which the body destroys red blood cells faster than it can replace them.
One common myth about ticks is that they only come out in the summer. However, ticks can be active year-round, especially in warmer climates. It's important to take precautions against ticks no matter what time of year it is.
Preventing Tick Bites
The best way to prevent tick borne diseases is to avoid tick bites in the first place. Here are some tips for reducing your risk of tick bites:
1. Wear protective clothing, such as long pants and sleeves, when spending time outdoors in areas with high tick populations.
2. Use insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin on exposed skin.
3. Check yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors, and remove any ticks you find promptly. Shower as soon as you come indoors to wash off any ticks that may be crawling on your skin.
4. Keep your yard well-maintained by mowing the grass and trimming bushes and trees.
5. Consider using tick repellents on your pets, and speak to your veterinarian about tick prevention medications. Bathe your pet regularly to remove any ticks that may have attached themselves to their fur.
Tick borne diseases can be serious, but with the right precautions, you can reduce your risk of tick bites and the illnesses they can transmit. If you develop symptoms of a tick borne disease after being bitten by a tick, seek medical attention immediately. Remember to check yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors, and take steps to protect yourself from tick bites whenever possible.
With a little bit of knowledge and preparation, you can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about tick borne diseases. By following the tips and tricks outlined in this blog, you can keep yourself and your furry friends safe and healthy all season long.