How Can Ticks Affect My Health?

Encountering ticks is never a happy moment. Many of us have memories of a sibling shouting that they have a tick on them and then everyone having to undergo a head to toe inspection. These small critters survive by feeding on blood from humans and animals. They have a four stage life cycle and need to consume blood each cycle in order to survive. Ticks can transmit diseases and should be safely removed as soon as they are identified.

How Does a Tick Transmit Diseases?

Since most ticks like to have several different hosts throughout their life they can spread blood borne pathogens from one host to another via their saliva. Have you ever wondered why you don’t initially feel a tick bite? Many ticks have antiseptic properties in their saliva that makes their bite imperceptible to their host at first.

Diseases Transmitted by Ticks

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: A bacterial disease that can result in death within a few days if not properly treated. Early symptoms are similar to the flu, including headaches, nausea and vomiting, and a fever. A spotted rash (hence the name) can be an early or late symptom of this disease. Also watch out for edema (or swelling) around the eyes. A later symptom of this disease is swelling of the brain.
  • Lyme Disease: The initial symptoms of lyme disease are similar to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever symptoms. Including general fatigue, a headache, and fever. About 3 days after the initial tick bite a rash may appear and begin to look like a bullseye target as time progresses. As the disease spreads it will begin attacking the nervous system, joints and heart.
  • Anaplasmosis: Early symptoms include a fever, muscle soreness and aches. Rashes are not commonly reported in cases of anaplasmosis. If left untreated it can lead to respiratory failure, hemorrhaging and loss of feeling in limbs, fingers and toes.

All of these diseases can be treated by antibiotics. These are not the only diseases transmitted by ticks and these critters should be removed as soon as they are found.

How to Remove a Tick

The simplest way to remove a tick is with tweezers. There are many myths that applying vaseline or heat to the tick will make it detach. However, when a tick is discovered it is important to remove it as soon as possible. Methods that involve waiting for the tick to detach on its own should be avoided.

The CDC recommends using tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible, then slowly pull it out. Avoid sudden movements and apply consistent pressure while removing the tick. The goal is to get the entire mouth of the tick out of the person’s body. Sudden movements may break off pieces of the mouth in the wound. After removal the bite area should be thoroughly cleaned with rubbing alcohol and/or by washing the site with soap and water. Continue to monitor your health after tick removal and dispose of the tick by putting it in a plastic ziploc bag and throwing it away or flushing it down the toilet. Do not squish the tick! Remember that you do not know what kind of bacteria it may have come in contact with. If you continue to have problems, reach out to our professionals for flea and tick extermination.

Need More Pest Control Advice?

Make sure to check out our post about Box Elder Bugs and What’s the Deal with Wolf Spiders? At Insight we are committed to managing your pest issues in a family and pet friendly manner. Contact us with any pest related questions or concerns and our team will be happy to help you.

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