Tick Talk: What You Should Know About These Tiny Pests and Their Big Impact
By angelamontana

Posted: July 1, 2024

What Are Ticks? Ticks are arachnids, closely related to spiders. They have four pairs of legs, no antennae, and can’t fly or jump. Instead, they wait on grass or foliage for a host to pass by and then latch on—a behavior known as “questing.” They prefer thin skin areas where they can easily feed.

Where Do Ticks Live and Bite? Ticks are found worldwide, but only a few species cause issues in the U.S. The blacklegged tick, or deer tick, is common in the Northeast and Midwest and is known for spreading Lyme disease. Other species like the Rocky Mountain wood tick can spread serious diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF).

Tick-Borne Diseases Ticks can carry multiple diseases at once. Common tick-borne illnesses include Lyme disease, RMSF, and anaplasmosis. These diseases can cause symptoms like fever, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. Lyme disease is known for its bull’s-eye rash, which appears a few days to a month after a bite.

Prevention and Removal To avoid tick bites, use insect repellent with DEET, wear treated clothing, and check your body and pets for ticks after being outdoors. If you find a tick, use pointy tweezers to carefully remove it and clean the area with soap and water.

When to Seek Medical Help Contact a healthcare provider if you develop symptoms of tick-borne diseases, such as chills, fever, muscle pain, or rash, within several weeks of a tick bite. Early treatment with antibiotics like doxycycline can prevent serious complications.

Future Prevention A vaccine for Lyme disease, currently in trials, could soon provide additional protection. Checking for ticks and using preventive measures remain essential to avoid tick-borne diseases.

Get more information on ticks from Health.com.

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