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Facts About Tick-Borne Diseases

At least seven species of ticks bite and transmit pathogens to humans in the United States. Even Hawaii has ticks, and non-native ticks are making their way to Alaska. Plus, the East Asian Longhorned tick is making itself at home after its mysterious arrival in the eastern states in 2017.

Of the tick species, the Brown dog tick is found worldwide and can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The bacterial disease can be deadly if left untreated, causing fever, headache, and a rash.

Aside from this well-known disease, there are many other diseases ticks can transmit to people and pets. Each of these tick species comes with its unique list of transmittable diseases. So, it's always a great idea to prevent exposure to ticks. As always, check with your veterinarian for their best recommendations in your state.

 

 

Ticks Transmit These Diseases in the US

Below are just a few of the diseases that ticks can spread.

Lyme disease

Blacklegged ticks can transmit Lyme disease all year long, even in winter (as long as it's not freezing). The CDC calls Lyme disease the "most common vector-borne disease in the United States." 

Like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, symptoms include fever, headache, and a rash. Ticks bite and transmit a bacterium and can infect the heart and nervous system. Fortunately, it can often respond to treatment with antibiotics. 

Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)

 With symptoms like Lyme disease, the cause of STARI isn't known, according to the CDC. The Lone star tick from the eastern and central states transmits STARI, causing a rash similar to Lyme disease. Notably, these ticks are expanding their range to the north and west. 

Since the exact cause of STARI isn't known, the treatment is also uncertain. However, doctors often treat it with antibiotics like Lyme disease.

Babesiosis

Blacklegged ticks also transmit microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. Babesiosis is most common in the Northeast and upper Midwest in the summer months.

 The tiny parasites are transmitted by the tiny nymph stage of the tick. These little guys are the size of a poppy seed, so it's hard to see them. Fortunately, most people don't have symptoms. However, older adults and those with compromised immune systems could face life-threatening complications.

Ehrlichiosis

Aggressive biting Lone star ticks are found in the eastern United States. They are distinguished by a white "star" on the female's back. Lone star and Blacklegged ticks can transmit bacteria that cause Ehrlichiosis.

Symptoms include muscle aches, fever, chills, headache, nausea, and a rash in children. Occasionally, the untreated disease leads to severe illness, brain damage, and death. As with Babesiosis, some people are more vulnerable.

Tularemia 

Unfortunately, many types of ticks transmit this disease all over the United States. Lone star ticks, dog ticks, and wood ticks carry the infectious bacterium. The disease can quickly kill rabbits and rodents and infects people through tick bites or contact with infected animals.

Tularemia symptoms vary from mild to life-threatening. At the tick bite site, an ulcer can develop and cause swelling in the lymph glands. Fortunately, most people recover completely, but others may require antibiotics for several weeks.

Powassan Virus

Blacklegged ticks, deer ticks, and groundhog ticks can transmit the Powassan virus. Currently, there are no treatments, and in some cases, the virus can cause meningitis-like infections of the brain or seizures. However, many people have no symptoms.

The Powassan virus's risk appears to be more prevalent in the northeastern states and the Great Lakes region. 

Anaplasmosis 

Once again, the Blacklegged ticks in the east and west transmit Anaplasmosis, caused by a bacterium. The familiar symptoms are fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. However, there can also be severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Once again, vulnerable people with weakened immune systems and older people can develop life-threatening complications. 

As always, if you develop symptoms, it's important to consult a doctor right away. However, many people won't remember being bitten by a tick. 

Prevent Tick-Borne Diseases

As you can see, tick-borne infections can vary from a minor annoyance to life-threatening disease. Fortunately, you can avoid these diseases by protecting your pets with a regimen of oral and topical treatments. Also, a flea collar can help dogs that regularly spend time in the outdoors.

Our topical treatment for large dogs over 12 weeks, Spot-On Bug Off, can stop ticks before they bite. Plus, it repels fleas, mosquitos, and flies for a full month. (Not safe with cats) 

As always, consult your veterinarian for advice on flea and tick treatments for pets.