Ticks are commonly associated with dogs and cats but they can also be a serious threat to humans. While ticks don't take humans as hosts, they can bite us. When they do, they are able to transmit many diseases. Let's take a look at five factors that determine how dangerous a tick will be to you and all the humans who live in your Houston home.
To Bite or Not to Bite?
There are several species of tick that can get into your home. The four most common ticks in Houston are American dog ticks, Lone Star ticks, deer ticks and brown dog ticks. Right away you should see why three of these ticks might present less of a threat to you. American dog ticks and brown dog ticks prefer to bite dogs and deer ticks have a preference for deer. Of the four, the Lone Star tick is most prone to bite humans and it is connected to serious tick-borne diseases, such as a lifelong allergy to meat that can trigger hives, skin rash, sneezing, stomach cramps, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, headaches and respiratory distress. It rare cases, anaphylaxis from this allergy has resulted in death.
How Many is Too Many?
If you have more ticks in your yard, you're going to have a greater chance of being bitten by a tick. So, it stands to reason that a tick that appears in large numbers can be more of a threat. The Lone Star tick seems to win out in this category as well. Not only is it predisposed to bite humans, it is not uncommon to find dozens and even hundreds of these ticks in one location. A human exposed to Lone Star ticks can pick up 20 to several hundred seed ticks. Seed ticks are about the size of poppy seeds, have only 6 legs and will look like tiny dark specks on the skin. Fortunately, seed ticks are a low risk for the spread of disease. But if you find Lone Star tick nymphs, which have eight legs, attached to your skin, this is a cause for concern.
Can It Infest Your Home?
There is only one tick that is able to complete its life cycle inside your Houston home. It is the brown dog tick. While this tick prefers to feed on dogs, it will also feed on humans that are in close proximity. This can expose you to tick-borne illness when you least expect it. When you go outside, you may think to do an inspection for ticks when you come back in. It is less likely that you will do a tick inspection if you haven't gone outside.
What Diseases Does It Carry?
There are many diseases that can be spread by more than one tick species and studies continue to uncover disease connections that were not previously known, so we can't say exactly which diseases are spread by which ticks, but here's what we know:
- Lone Star ticks are known to transmit ehrlichiosis, Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), meat allergy and tularemia.
- Brown dog ticks are a high risk for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can be deadly.
- American dog ticks are known to transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and cause tick paralysis.
- Black-legged ticks are best known for their connection to Lyme disease but they also transmit babesiosis, Powassan disease and can cause anaplasmosis.
While these disease lists are by no means the end of the diseases spread by these tick species, they can help with threat assessment. The bottom line is that all of the pest ticks in Houston are able to transmit dangerous diseases. Fortunately, every tick that bites you does not have a disease.
How Old is It?
Most infections caused by exposure to ticks come from the nymphs of each of these species. This is because seed ticks contract diseases, fall off and seek another host. When they attach to a human in their nymph stage, they are much smaller than an adult. This allows them to go undetected. It can take 12 to 48 hours for a disease to transfer from a tick. Longer attachment increases the chance of illness.
Tick Control in Houston
If you're noticing ticks in your yard, take action. Ticks are a serious threat to you and everyone living in your home, even if you don't have pets. Contact Modern Pest Control today to begin service that will reduce ticks on your property. We're standing by to help.