A Wave of Tick-borne Diseases is Hitting the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number cases of tick-borne diseases is on a steady rise in the United States. Lyme disease, however, isn’t the only disease ticks can transmit to humans with a bite. There are a number of similar life-threatening tickborne diseases that pose a significant threat to public health.
The best defense against Lyme disease and those other diseases is to avoid contact with ticks altogether. Best methods include wearing long pants and sleeved shirts and treating high-use areas with a tick-killing insecticide.
Before we delve into the specifics of tickborne diseases, here’s a thorough checklist to avoid tick bites:
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM TICK BITES
You can minimize your risk of tick bites by:
- Applying DEET to exposed skin and clothes whenever you go outside.
- Wearing light-colored clothing.
- Donning long pants and tucking them into your socks.
- Wearing closed-toed shoes.
- Treating your lawn with a tick-killing insecticide.
- After coming inside, remove your clothes and put them in the dryer on high heat.
- Check for ticks on your skin each day.
- Have a friend or family member check your skin, too.
By following these guidelines, you can greatly minimize the risks of getting tick bites. If, however, you’re bitten by a tick, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and other diseases that can be transmitted by these pests.
WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?
This infectious disease is transmitted by ticks that carry a bacteria that severely effects human health. Within a week of being bitten by an infected tick, a person will develop a red, bull’s eye-shaped rash at the bite site. From that point, the bacteria triggers a variety of symptoms including fatigue, headaches and a fever. As the disease progresses, joint pains are most common, but other signs of the disease include severe headaches, facial paralysis and tingling in the arms and legs. If left untreated, the disease can linger for years, and it can be fatal in extreme cases.
BEYOND LYME DISEASE: OTHER TICKBORNE DISEASES
Lyme disease is certainly the most well-known of the diseases that can be spread by tick bites. However, researchers are signaling that other tick-borne diseases are becoming more prevalent, too. Among them are:
- Anaplasmosis causes a drop in red blood cells, increased heart rate, weight loss, diarrhea and anorexia. TV show host David Letterman contracted this disease, saying it was probably the result of a tick bite.
- Babesiosis develops as a malaria-like disease that triggers a wave of malaise and fatigue coupled with a fever, anemia, chills and sweats. Interestingly, this disease, discovered in the 1890s, was the first illness shown to be transmitted via a bug bite.
- Borrelia miyamotoi infects a person and manifests with symptoms similar to Lyme disease, including fever, headache, fatigue and body aches. It does not, however, create the signature bull’s eye rash of Lyme disease.
- Borrelia mayonii also carries Lyme disease-like symptoms while also demonstrating others, including nausea, vomiting, rash and additional neurological symptoms. The primary tick that transmits this bacteria is sometimes transported long distances by birds.
- Bourbon virus brings a number of symptoms, including a rash on the chest, abdomen or back as well as a loss of appetite, muscle aches, joint pain, nausea and fever. Not much is known about this virus, and scientists aren’t entirely sure it’s transmitted by tick bites.
- Ehrlichiosis kills the victim’s white blood cells, resulting in fatigue, headaches and muscle aches. Some cases create “purpura” spots on the skin – splotchy but well-defined red or purple lesions.
- Heartland virus was discovered in 2009 in Missouri, and shows up as a fever accompanied by a number of other symptoms, including lethargy, headaches, muscle and joint pains, loss of appetite and a low white blood cell count. A doctor first ID’d this disease when two farmers living dozens of miles apart manifested similar symptoms.
- Powassan virus may trigger encephalitis in those who’ve been infected and is often difficult to diagnose as the cause of the encephalitis. Symptoms include fever, headaches, mental confusion and physical weakness, all of which appear between the first and third week after the bite.
- Rickettsia parkeri is sometimes known as American Tick Bite Fever, and manifests as skin rashes, fever and headaches. First identified in 2004, it is mostly found in the southwestern U.S.
- Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness brings on a variety of symptoms including fatigue, headache, muscle pains and fever. Spread exclusively by one species of tick, the disease has been reported from Maine to Texas. The exact cause of STARI is unknown, however.
WHY IS THERE AN INCREASE IN TICK DISEASES?
Tick diseases are becoming so prevalent because the population of ticks in North America is swelling. Likewise, people are encountering them more often as human population centers encroach further into areas that support tick-carrying wildlife. Climate change is another factor, since increasing temperatures allow ticks to thrive in areas where they wouldn’t have existed before. Also, increasing deer populations are giving ticks a reliable, and highly mobile, food source.
HOW TO KEEP TICKS AWAY FROM YOUR PROPERTY
If you’re concerned about ticks invading your lawn or vacation property, turn to Safer® Brand for an OMRI Listed® solution to dealing with these deadly insects. OMRI Listed® products are scrutinized by the Organic Materials Review Institute to make sure they’re produced in the appropriate methods to be compliant for use in organic gardening.
To battle ticks, apply Safer® Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer Concentrate. This concentrate features a hose-end sprayer attachment for easy application on your lawn. Using a mixture of potassium salts of fatty acids and pyrethrins, Mosquito & Tick Killer eliminates ticks on contact while also killing mosquitoes, chinch bugs, lawn moths, sod webworms, armyworms and European crane flies. Each 32 oz bottle treats up to 2,500 square feet and can be applied as often as needed, but no more than once a day.
PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY
If you like the idea of protecting your family and garden from pest insects while keeping those treatments compliant for use with organic gardening, turn to Safer® Brand. Join the Safer® Brand community on Facebook, where we help homeowners and gardeners tackle their pest problems. You can also contact our dedicated Consumer Care Team at 855-7-ORGANIC.
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