A few decades ago, ticks weren’t a pest that people gave much thought. You might occasionally hear about them, but they were certainly nothing you worried about each time you stepped outside.
In recent years, however, there has been a sharp rise in both their populations and in the diseases they transmit. Ticks are now a pest you have to take precautions against from early spring through late fall, and due to the variety of potentially deadly diseases they carry, those precautions are nothing to take lightly.
What Dangers Do Ticks Pose?
Probably the most well-known disease transmitted by ticks is Lyme disease. Lyme disease is transmitted by infected deer ticks and is frequently misdiagnosed, as its symptoms often mimic other diseases and infections.
The bullseye rash, while a tell-tale sign of Lyme, doesn’t always occur, or could go unnoticed if you were bitten in a place you can't easily see such as the scalp. Flu-like symptoms can occur up to a month after being bitten. If left untreated for a long time, Lyme can cause joint pain and neurological symptoms. If not caught early, Lyme disease can become a chronic problem and result in lifelong issues.
Babesiosis is also transmitted by deer ticks. Symptoms occur anywhere from a week to several months after being infected and typically mimic flu-like symptoms. People with compromised immune systems can experience life-threatening complications from Babesiosis.
Anaplasmosis is another disease transmitted by deer ticks. Symptoms begin a week or two after transmission and mimic flu-like symptoms. Anaplasmosis rarely causes severe illness.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
This disease is primarily transmitted by dog ticks. Early symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever are similar to those of other tick-borne diseases as they mimic flu symptoms. A rash typically develops a couple of days after a fever occurs. While Rocky Mountain spotted fever does not become a chronic condition, severe cases can cause permanent damage.
Perhaps the most frightening of tick-borne illnesses, the Powassan virus can be transmitted within just 15 minutes of a tick bite. While many people infected with Powassan don’t develop symptoms, those who do can experience anything from flu-like symptoms to the much more serious encephalitis or meningitis. About half of people infected with Powassan encephalitis end up with permanent neurological problems and approximately 10% of all cases are fatal.
How Do You Get Infected?
For most, but not all, tick-borne illnesses, a tick must be embedded in your skin for at least 24 hours before transmitting a disease. However, illnesses such as Powassan encephalitis can be transmitted much more quickly, so prevention of tick bites is crucial in avoiding tick-borne illnesses. It should be noted that not every tick carries a disease, so a tick bite does not guarantee a disease.
To get to your skin, ticks can hitch a ride on you or your clothing when you brush past them and then crawl up until they find an area of skin to latch on to and begin feeding. These pests can be found in grass, especially in areas of tall grass, brush and leaf piles, and in forested areas, so you may pick up a tick while spending time in these areas.
Ticks can also gain access to your home by hitching a ride inside on your pets. Similarly, if rodents such as mice or squirrels enter your home, they can carry ticks inside as well.
What’s the Best Way to Keep Your Family and Home Safe?
To keep your family and your home safe from tick-borne diseases, certain preventative measures should be taken.
One way to keep ticks away is to make your yard uninviting for both questing ticks and the wildlife that carry them onto your property. This can be accomplished by keeping your grass trimmed, keeping your garbage bins tightly covered, and not building brush piles near your home. In addition, placing a barrier of crushed stone around your property can keep ticks from wandering into your yard.
Make sure to treat your pets with a monthly tick preventative treatment and keep them out of the woods and areas of tall grass as much as possible. After spending time outdoors, it is vital that you check yourself, your family members, and your pets for ticks.
To reduce the risk of contracting tick-borne diseases, enlist the help of the professionals to treat for ticks and tick-carrying wildlife around your home. In the summer months, tick populations increase greatly, meaning that even the best preventative measures cannot be 100% effective. However, by bringing the professionals from ChemTec Pest Control on board, you can rest assured knowing that you’re doing everything possible to protect your family from ticks!