May 23, 2019
There are many things you need to know about ticks, the most important being that ticks are dangerous. But why are they so dangerous? What is it about ticks that makes them a serious threat for illness both in our pets and in us? It has mostly to do with how resilient ticks are. The diseases that can be deadly to humans aren't deadly to ticks. So ticks are able to carry them and transmit them. It also has to do with how ticks come into contact with us. They are blood-eating bugs and when they feed on us, diseases can be transmitted directly into our blood. That is really bad. Blood goes into every nook and cranny of our bodies. It goes through our veins and enters into every organ of the body. It travels into our brains. It moves through our skin. So it isn't surprising that tick-borne diseases can cause organ problems, neurological disorders, and allergies.
But tick disease doesn't start with ticks. They're not born with diseases. They contract them from animals they come into contact with. One animal that is of particular importance in the spread of disease is the common house mouse. Mice don't just bring ticks into our homes, they are a reservoir for many of the diseases that ticks can spread. So, it is bad news to have a tick infestation and a rodent infestation at the same time. But, it isn't all bad news when it comes to ticks. It's a mix.
The Good News
Fortunately, all ticks are not created equal. When it comes to transmitting human pathogens, some ticks are better at it than others. Ticks that prefer a certain type of animal over another, will be less likely to feed on humans. That can reduce the risk. Brown dog ticks, for instance, prefer to feed on domesticated dogs—hence the name. But that doesn't mean they won't bite a human. When their preferred animal is not available, these ticks will reluctantly feed on humans. And, in the case of the brown dog tick, it is able to spread ehrlichiosis, babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to people, all of which can be deadly under the right conditions.
There is a long list of tick-borne diseases and many of them are potentially deadly. A few of the diseases that have documented cases of death are ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Bourbon virus, Heartland virus, Powassan virus, and Lyme disease. When and why a tick-borne disease leads to mortality is complicated. The good news is that death is rare. The bad news is that an illness that seems to be the flu can turn deadly.
Death isn't the worst outcome of tick-borne illness. Ask anyone who has suffered for years with Lyme disease and they'll tell you that it is a nightmare. Lyme is called the great imitator because its chronic symptoms can be confused for virtually any disease, including fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, ALS, chronic fatigue syndrome, and more. Not fun stuff to have. There is good news, however. Lyme disease can be prevented.
If a tick is caught within the first 24 hours of attachment. It takes time for the Lyme-causing bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi to transfer from tick to human. That is why we strongly recommend tick checks after being outside in areas where ticks are known to be. Lyme disease is also treatable in its acute stage. If you've been bitten by a tick and you notice a bulls-eye rash, notify your doctor. This will help you get the right treatment and prevent chronic Lyme.
In light of the scary information above, it is important to understand that not every tick that bites you will have a disease, not every disease is deadly, and even diseases that can be deadly can produce mild or no symptoms at all. It is just important that we all understand the risk involved in having ticks around and being bitten by ticks. Serious illness can and does occur. Precaution is warranted.
If you have an issue with ticks in your backyard, which is common in Houston because ticks love Houston homes and yards, reach out to Modern Pest Control for seasonal tick reduction services. One of the reasons ticks get into our Texas homes is that they're allowed to live in our Texas yards. Protect your yard and protect everyone who goes into your yard, by investing in tick control. Fewer ticks in your yard will result in fewer bites and lower risk of tick-borne illnesses. When it comes to these dangerous arachnids, no yard should be without this essential service.