In addition to being unpleasant, tick bites can also be dangerous. Ticks spread diseases that are often difficult to diagnose and can be serious if not promptly treated. Due to the dangers posed by tick diseases, it is important for people to understand the types of infections spread by ticks, common symptoms of tickborne diseases, and how to prevent tick bites.
Types of Tickborne Disease
Ticks spread a variety of diseases. In the United States, the most famous and most common of these is Lyme disease. Other U.S. tickborne diseases include:
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI.
-Rickettsia parkeri Rickettsiosis
Tickborne Relapsing Fever
Not all diseases are found in all areas of the country as different tick species spread different infections.
Common Symptoms of Tick Diseases
Not all tickborne diseases have the same symptoms, but there are a few signs that characterize many of these infections. Common symptoms include fever and chills, aches, fatigue and rashes. Fevers caused by tickborne illnesses can range from mild to high, and the time to the onset of fever varies with each disease. Aches usually take the form of headaches and muscle aches. Lyme disease sufferers may also experience joint pain. Rashes take many forms including bulls-eye rashes with Lyme disease and STARI, ulcers with tularemia and generalized rashes with other types of infection.
Anyone with these symptoms who has been bitten by a tick in the past month or who lives in an area where ticks are common, should see a doctor as soon as possible. While most tick diseases can be effectively treated with antibiotics, it is still important to get medical help quickly. Early diagnosis and treatment decrease the risk of serious complications.
Preventing Tickborne Illness
The best way to avoid tickborne illness is to prevent tick bites. This means that everyone should use insect repellent when going into wooded areas. When coming back into the house, individuals need to check themselves, their children and their pets for ticks. If ticks are found, they should be removed promptly with a steady motion. It is very important never to squeeze a tick as this could trigger the parasite to release disease-causing organisms into the bite wound. Removing ticks promptly decreases the risk of exposure to tick diseases.
Homeowners in areas with heavy tick populations should consider environmental control in addition to personal protection. This is particularly important for those with children and pets who spend time outdoors. Local exterminators are familiar with local tick species and can help homeowners effectively control these dangerous pests. More information on how pest control experts can help with tick problems can be found elsewhere on the site.