Tick Diseases That Affect You And Your Pets
There are a number of diseases that can be spread by ticks
to you, your family, and your pets.
Ticks are found in every region of the United States, and in the warmer
areas they can be present year round.
Northern areas, where there is a ‘real’ winter, will have a respite when
snow is on the ground, but speaking from experience, as soon as the snow melts,
ticks will appear.
Several species of ticks are found in North America,
including the wood, or dog tick, deer tick, lone star tick, California black-eyed
tick, and mammal soft tick. All of these
ticks can carry disease and spread it to you or your pets through a bite.
Lyme Disease and
These diseases are very similar in
the symptoms that they cause – fever, joint pain, and headaches, and Ehrlichiosis
adds gastrointestinal distress to the misery.
It is important for these diseases to be identified as quickly as
possible, as it can be difficult to remove the bacteria from the body
effectively if some time has passed since symptoms began. I should point out that Ehrlichiosis is
considered to be contagious – independent of the need for an actual bite – as
it can be spread by saliva or blood. My
three dogs and I all came down with Ehrlichiosis within a 10 day period several
years ago, and I had not been bitten by a tick.
If anyone in the family or a pet gets ill with this disease, watch out
for symptoms in others, irrespective of a tick bite.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Dog ticks are the means by which
this disease spreads, and it is caused by a bacterium. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is potentially a
much more dangerous disease than either of the above, and fatalities can result
if treatment is not given soon after symptoms appear.Fever, pain in the
abdominal region, headache, and vomiting usually attend this illness. The rash
which gives Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever its name usually does not appear until
several days have gone by. A blood test
can confirm whether this disease is present, and the appropriate antibiotics
will usually effect a good cure.
Other Tick Diseases
The three diseases mentioned above
are probably the most common that will be picked up from a tick bite, but there
are several other diseases that are possible in North America including:
Tularemia (Rabbit Fever), Relapsing Fever, Babesiosis
(caused by a protozoa), and some viral diseases such as Colorado Tick Fever and
Removing Ticks Safely
Generally, the longer a tick is on
a person or pet, the greater are the chances of a disease being transmitted. Everyone in the family, including pets,
should be checked over daily during tick season. Clothing should be checked as well, and as
ticks will often enter a house on their own, keep an eye on door frames,
If a tick is found to be embedded
in flesh, it should be removed using tweezers with a very pointed tip. Grasp the tick as close to the flesh as
possible and slowly pull it away. If you
yank it out, you will risk breaking off the mouthparts in the skin, which might
then become infected. Do not squeeze the
body of the tick as this will introduce more of the infectious liquid into the
host’s flesh. Freeze the tick for later
testing if illness results from the bite.