Top 9 Tick Borne Diseases to Be Aware Of
Whether you live in a home surrounded by grassy fields, timbery woodlands, or mountainous terrain, you may come in contact with a tick. You could be camping in a national park or weeding the garden beds in your own yard when the critter decides to take a bite from your delicious flesh. Contrary to what many may think, a tick is not an insect. It is an arachnid, which makes it more related to the spider than pests such as flies or mosquitos.
As many arachnids do, ticks have an interesting strategy for getting food. It’s called questing and ensues when the tick patiently waits on a leaf of a bush or a blade of grass for the unfortunate human or animal to come along. When the victim gets close enough, the tick reaches out with its legs and latches onto its unsuspecting host. The small creature will settle close to a minor blood vessel where it can dine on blood.
The gruesome facts don’t end there. This creepy miniature predator will set up camp, burrowing its head into the host’s skin. With a feeding tube intact, the tick could stay two or more days. Once attached, the trouble now begins because the victim could become infected with an illness. The sooner the tick is removed, the lower the chances will be of getting tick borne diseases.
9 Diseases That Come From Ticks
Not only can ticks transmit illnesses, but they can also pick up disease-causing bacteria since they feed on wild animals. Some could actually carry two or three diseases and infect you with all of them. If you enjoy being outdoors, it’s good to be aware of the possibility and consequences of being bit by a tick.
You can take precautions against getting bit by avoiding walking through or sitting in dense foliage or overgrown vegetation during the spring and summer months; also, wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. You can use tick repellent that contains DEET, although it is not considerably effective.
Permethrin can be applied to clothing, causing ticks to shrivel up and die when they come in contact with this insecticide. For a more natural approach, taking vitamin B-1 can help to repel ticks since bugs hate the smell of the vitamin on your skin. Take one vitamin every day for a few days prior to your outdoor excursion, giving it a chance to get into your system.
Check your body for ticks after each outing you go on; if you find one, remove it immediately. Extract the tick with a pair of blunt tweezers, taking hold of it as close to your skin and its head as possible.
Carefully pull upward and then discard it in the toilet, or save the tick in a sealed container or bag in case your doctor wants to identify it. Clean the site on your skin thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol.
Since tick borne diseases can be serious, you’ll want to watch for any symptoms that may arise for several days after the bite and inform your doctor. The following list includes 10 of the most common illnesses that could come from tick bites and how to identify and treat them.
1. Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia bacteria and can be spread by ticks. Delaying treatment can result in headaches, joint pain, and loss of ability to move your face. Symptoms can show up in one or two weeks, or even several months or years from the time of the bite.
Some people get a rash that looks like a bulls-eye, with a red dot in the center and a red circle surrounding the dot (erythema migrans). Other symptoms can include fatigue, headache, fever, and stiff neck. In later stages, symptoms may include persistent arthritis and/or inflammation of the heart (myocarditis).
Treatment consists of antibiotics. Usually, doxycycline is the first choice, followed by amoxicillin, azithromycin, or cefuroxime axetil.
Babesiosis is a parasitic disease similar to malaria in that it attacks the red blood cells and can be transmitted by ticks. It is a very common blood parasite found in mammals, especially cattle. It is also known as “Texas Cattle Fever.”
Some of the most prevalent symptoms are hemolytic anemia and fever. Chills and sweating can also accompany the first ailments. Less common symptoms that may occur after the bite include nausea, vomiting, headache, and sore throat.
For treatment, a combination of azithromycin and atovaquone can be administered. Even mild cases should be treated so that the disease won’t spread if the patient decides to donate blood.
Also, know Human monocytic ehrlichiosis, this tick-borne bacterial infection can kill the host’s white blood cells and cause additional problems. The bacteria are of the family Anaplasmataceae.
Common signs include fatigue, muscle pain, and headache. Less commonly, a rash may appear. Suppression of the immune system can lead to a candidiasis infection, a yeasty, fungal infection like thrush.
The best treatment is doxycycline and minocycline. Rifampin is an alternative medication for those allergic to antibiotics.
4. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is also known as blue disease. This is one of the most deadly and frequent rickettsial. Or typhus and spotted fever type, diseases reported in the United States. Even experienced doctors have a difficult time diagnosing this illness in its earliest stages.
The first symptoms include muscle pain, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, fever, and lack of appetite. Progressive symptoms consist of a maculopapular rash, a petechial rash, conjunctivitis, joint pain, and abdominal pain. The rash starts on the wrists and ankles during the 2nd or 3rd day after infection.
Antibiotics should be started immediately. Doxycycline is the best choice, with chloramphenicol as an alternative.
5. Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis
This tick-borne disease is caused by the bacteria Anaplasma phagocytophilum and is another rickettsial type infection. It is also known as Anaplasmosis. The same ticks that transmit this illness also transmit Lyme disease.
Symptoms can include fatigue, sensitivity to light, joint pain, diarrhea, cough, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, nausea, headache, and fever. The patient can also experience a temporary loss of motor skills, chills, and muscle aches.
Treatment for this illness is doxycycline. It is critical to treat the symptoms quickly, or death could result. Rifampin can be used for those with allergies to doxycycline. Prompt antibiotic therapy improves the outcome.
6. Tick-Borne Encephalitis
This tick caused viral disease involves the nervous system. It can manifest as encephalitis, meningoencephalitis, or meningitis. The disease can infect animals and then spread from animals to humans. Eurasia is the country most often infected with this disease.
Symptoms include a mild fever and neurologic problems. If the disease affects the brain, it is called encephalitis. If it causes problems with the meninges, it is called meningitis. Meningoencephalitis occurs when the disease affects both the brain and the meninges. In dogs, the disease can manifest itself with tremors and seizures.
Vaccines for tick-borne encephalitis are available in travel clinics and areas where tick bites are endemic. Often, warning signs will be posted in places such as the Lithuanian forest where the infection rate is a high probability.
Once someone is infected, they may be hospitalized and given supportive care since the disease is incurable once manifested. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help with relief. On occasion, tracheal intubation may be needed.
7. Heartland Virus
This tick-borne phlebovirus is transmitted by the Lone Star Tick when it feeds on the victim’s blood. It is most commonly found in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, and Arkansas.
Signs may include a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Other symptoms include joint pain, weight loss, diarrhea, loss of appetite, muscle pain, headaches, and lethargy. Easy bruising and elevated liver transaminases may also occur.
Antibiotics are not effective with this viruses. To help relieve discomfort, pain-relief medication can be used. Intravenous fluids can also be administered.
Tularemia is also known as rabbit fever and is caused by the Francisella tularensis bacterium. Secondary infections may also result such as a throat infection or pneumonia. This bacterium is mostly spread by bites from ticks and deer flies. It is not spread from person to person.
Symptoms can include a skin ulcer at the bite site, enlarged lymph nodes, and a fever. Other signs are a loss of appetite, lethargy, and fever.
Treatment usually consists of administering the streptomycin antibiotic. Alternative medications can be used such as ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, and gentamicin.
9. Tick Paralysis
This tick-borne disease is the only one that is not caused by an infectious organism. Neurotoxin produced by the tick’s salivary glands is the offender in this illness. The tick will transmit the neurotoxin after being attached to the host for a long period of time.
Weakness in both legs is one of the first signs of this illness. The paralysis moves upwards. Within a few hours, paralysis progresses through the body, to the trunk and then the arms and eventually to the head. Severe respiratory distress can occur, as well as death.
Removing the tick immediately is the first action that needs to take place. Because the toxin exists in the salivary glands of the tick’s mouth, it is critical to making sure the head is removed. It is best to grasp the tic using forceps or tweezers. Using steady traction, the bug’s neurotoxins should be prevented from entering the patient.
Ticks won’t disappear from your outdoor events, but they don’t have to ruin your fun. You can take the necessary precautions by avoiding places that have an abundance of ticks. You can also check yourself to make sure they haven’t attached themselves to your body.
If you do get symptoms, you can contact your doctor immediately and receive the proper treatment. By becoming aware of the possibilities, you can prevent unnecessary illnesses from ticks and enjoy being in the great outdoors.