Ticks are a nasty little pest that attaches themselves to people while feeding. Ticks feed on the blood of other animals, including humans.
This feeding on the blood is what is known as hematophagy. Once the tick has attached itself to the skin, it becomes troublesome to remove. The best way to remove a tick from the skin is to use something mechanical like tweezers.
While most ticks do not carry disease and their bites do not cause harm, some definitely harbor a host of detrimental pathogens. Ticks are notorious for being vectors of a wide range of diseases. Many of the diseases ticks can carry are named after ticks and some can be very harmful to humans.
One of the major diseases associated with ticks is Lyme Disease. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the northern hemisphere. The main symptom of early infection of Lyme disease is a rash that looks like a bulls-eye.
Lyme disease can range from very serious to very treatable. If detected early on, there is a high chance that this disease can be cured without lasting effects. A late diagnosis though can result in much more serious issues.
Lyme disease in serious cases can range from joint and muscle pain all the way to paralysis in extreme cases. A problem with more advanced stages of Lyme disease is that it has very similar symptoms as other diseases.
Many times, it is misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, Crohn’s disease or other autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases.
There are also hosts of fevers that can result from a tick bite. There is the Colorado Tick Fever that is characterized by fever, chills, headaches, skeletal and muscular pain, and even depression. This fever can range in severity depending on the person’s age and health overall. While many of the cases are not life-threatening, some can result in serious central nervous system issues resulting in coma or death.
Another fever that is the result of a tick bite is the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. This fever is characterized by a red spotted rash on the skin.
This is the most widely reported and the most lethal rickettsia (a specific type of bacteria) disease in the United States. While the fever’s name may suggest that, it is only found in the Rocky Mountain region, this is not the case and there have been incidents all around the country. There have even been cases as far north as Canada and as far south as parts of South America.
The tick can also cause something called Tick Paralysis that is a result of tick’s salivary gland secreting a neurotoxin into the carrier. This is a result of the prolonged attachment to the tick.
Removal of the tick usually alleviates the paralysis within a few days.
While tick-borne diseases may not be extremely common, it is important to be aware of this insect due to the host of diseases they may carry.
Whenever adventuring out in the woods, take the proper precautions like wearing long pants and tucking them into your shoes. In addition, wearing light-colored clothing can help to spot ticks before they are able to bite.