Are you are alarmed about tick diseases and the recent news reports that cite studies showing that ticks, mosquitoes, other biting insects, and the diseases they spread are all on the rise? Here is what you need to know about the contributing factors and new diseases, as well as advice for protecting your family this summer.
Recorded Disease Cases Have Exploded
The number of recorded cases of diseases transmitted by ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas tripled between 2004 and 2016. The most likely factors contributing to this staggering statistic are:
- Better diagnosis techniques leading to more reported cases. Lyme disease is now less likely to be confused with rheumatoid arthritis, for example.
- Reforestation of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Upper Midwest regions of the U.S. resulting in the “patchy” habitats favored by deer and rodents that host ticks.
- Climate change has resulted in the expanding geographic range of some tick species farther to the north. The Lone Star Tick is a prime example.
Emerging Tick Diseases
Lyme Disease makes the headlines, but an unprecedented seven new pathogens spread by ticks have been discovered in North America, or introduced here from elsewhere, since 2004. These are:
- Rickettsia parkeri Rickettsiosis
- Pacific Coast Tick Fever
- Ehrlichia muris Ehrlichiosis
- Heartland Virus Disease
- Bourbon Virus
- Borrelia miyamotoi Disease
- Borrelia mayonii, a new agent of Lyme Disease.
Don’t Be a Tick Victim
The Mayo Clinic provides the following “ABCs” of tick bite prevention:
- Avoid tick habitats of tall grass and forest edges whenever possible.
- Bug spray: Use repellents with 20-30% DEET as the active ingredient, like Ben’s® 30% DEET.
- Clothing: Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts. Wear clothing treated with permethrin for added repellency. After washing them, tumble dry on high heat for at least 10 minutes.
- Check yourself, your children, your pets, and your gear for ticks before they can attach. Please see our post on “How to Remove a Tick” for proper protocol.
Do Your Homework
Watch for more updates and information here at Insectlopedia, but also learn what ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting animals live in your area. Learn the diseases they carry, and their symptoms. Remember to report a tick bite to your doctor. Understand that one tick can be host to more than one pathogen, so co-infection is possible.