Tick Facts

Ticks are annoying pests that can easily spoil our enjoyment of the outdoors. A tick bite might not show any symptoms. Tick saliva contains anesthetic properties that make it difficult to feel that a tick has attached to its host – because of this, many bites go unnoticed. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Massachusetts and the Northeast.

Tick Facts:

  • Ticks do not jump or fly, instead they wait on knee-high brush until a host brushes against them and climb up that host’s fur or clothing
  • Ticks are arachnids, relatives to spiders and mites
  • Female ticks lay thousands of eggs in moss, grass, plants, leaf litter, and on rotted tree debris
  • An adult tick can survive for up to 18 months without food
  • Tick bites are the primary transmitters of Lyme disease
  • Chipmunks and mice also carry the bacterium of Lyme disease

Diseases Spread by Deer Ticks

  • Lyme disease is transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in the northeastern U.S. and upper midwestern U.S. and the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) along the Pacific coast.
  • common-rareBabesiosis is caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. Most human cases of babesiosis in the U.S. are caused by Babesia microti. Babesia microti is transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and is found primarily in the northeast and upper midwest.
  • Anaplasmosis (formely granulocytic ehrlichiosis) is transmitted to humans by tick bites primarily from the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in the northeastern and upper midwestern U.S. and the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) along the Pacific coast.
  • Borrelia miyamotoi infection has recently been described as a cause of illness in the U.S. It is transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and has a range similar to that of Lyme disease.
  • Powassan disease or deer tick encephalitis is transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Cases have been reported primarily from northeastern states and the Great Lakes region.

Because 24 to 48 hours of attachment to the host are required for infection to occur, early removal can help prevent disease. Treatment with doxycycline or tetracycline is indicated for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and relapsing fever. In patients with clinical findings suggestive of tick-borne disease, treatment should not be delayed for laboratory confirmation.*

SOURCES: CDC page : http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/index.html, *American Family Physician page : http://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/0615/p2323.html