It’s tick season again, North America. As the weather warms and people move outside, the chances of encountering one of these blood-sucking arthropods increase. In fact, flea problems today seem to be worse than they were 50 to 60 years ago, experts told Live Science.
It is worthy of vigilance; Ticks cause at least 50,000 illnesses in the U.S. each year, and those are just those diagnosed and reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In fact, the actual incidence of tick-borne disease could be much higher. Eg, Estimated 2021 found that 476,000 Americans are treated for Lyme disease alone each year. (According to the CDC, this may overestimate the actual number of Lyme infections, because people are sometimes treated with Lyme as a preventive measure after being bitten by a flea.)
Although there is no single national surveillance system that captures all cases of tick-borne illness, the risk clearly varies from state to state. In the Northeast, where deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) thrive, Lyme is a concern. In the Southeast, where dog ticks (Skin deformities) tend to reside, detection fevers, including the somewhat misleadingly named Rocky Mountain spotted fever, are predominant.
Related: 9 out of 10 ticks in this Pennsylvania park carry a potentially fatal neurovirus
Mark the growing encounter
Ticks are effective disease transmitters because they can feed on many hosts and because they attach themselves to the host for several days, allowing ample time for pathogens to spread, said Jerome Goddard, an extensive professor of entomology. medical entomology at Mississippi State University.
That’s one of the main reasons flea encounters are on the rise, Goddard told Live Science. Ticks find food by ambushing passing animals, he said, and if the ticks can’t find a host, they die. When there are more deer, more ticks survive, which means that deer and tick populations are closely related. Developing rural areas, bringing people closer to ticks, also plays a role, According to CDC. Final, climate change could alter the range of ticks and tick-borne pathogens in ways that are not well understood, also potentially increasing the likelihood of humans interacting with ticks.
According to CDC’s Bookmark Bite Data TrackerMay and June are the peak months for tick bites that cause people to go to the emergency room. During these months, the Northeast had the most tick-related ER visits per 100,000 people, followed by the Midwest and then the Southeast.
Lyme disease, caused by bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and transmitted by deer ticks, which most commonly affect people in the Northeast and Midwest, as well as anaplasmosis, another bacterial disease spread by deer ticks. People in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast are more at risk for spotted fever, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is caused by bacteria Rickettsia rickettsia.
Ehrlichiosis, a bacterial infection spread by both the deer tick and the solitary star tick (Amblyomma americanum), most commonly reported in the mid-Atlantic, South and Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
Typically, bacterial infections caused by these ticks have symptoms such as fever, headache, rash, and chills. All of them are treatable with antibiotics when caught early, but a missed infection can be fatal. Infections can also cause long-term problems. For example, a small group of people with ehrlichiosis later develop an allergy to red meat, Live Science previously reported.
These bacterial diseases have long been the result of tick bites. More recently, however, doctors and scientists have identified a range of viral diseases transmitted by ticks. These include the Heartland and Bourbon viruses, most of which have been reported from the South and Midwest. These viruses can cause fever, fatigue, headache, diarrhea, joint pain, and sometimes decreased platelet and white blood cell counts. There is no treatment for these viruses. Most people recovered, but some patients died. Worse still is the Powassan virus, which is spread most commonly by ticks in the Northeast and Great Lakes, which is capable of infecting the brain and surrounding membranes of the spinal cord.
Fight against tick-borne diseases
With tick-borne disease, a growing problem, researchers are finding ways to combat it. At SUNY Upstate College of Medicine in Syracuse, New York, microbiologist and immunologist Saravanan Thangamani and his team are working to develop vaccines for emerging tick-borne viruses, particularly especially Powassan virus. Thangamani told Live Science that these viruses are transmitted immediately when bitten by a tick, so a vaccine is needed to prevent the virus from replicating in the human body and spreading outside the skin.
Diseases caused by bacteria are another story. In most cases, the bacteria that cause these illnesses take 24 to 36 hours after the initial bite to transmit. Instead of trying to develop vaccines for individual diseases, Thangamani and other scientists are pursuing vaccines that target the ticks themselves.
An effective tick-borne vaccine would work by targeting a mixture of proteins found in the tick’s saliva. Ticks inject a dynamic mixture of these proteins during their feeding days to anesthetize the skin and hide from the host. immune system. Animal tests led by Yale University researchers have shown that one Anti-flea vaccines can prevent fleas from eating and cause them to quickly leave their host, Live Science previously reported.
“I feel that in the next three to five years, we should have some good candidates for a vaccine,” Thangamani said.
Meanwhile, the best defense is a good attack. To avoid getting bitten by a tick in the first place, dress appropriately when in tick-rich areas, Goddard advises. Tuck pants into rubber boots – or at least into socks – can prevent ticks.
“If you’re wearing boots, ankle-length leather boots, and your pant legs flutter in the wind, it’s an interstate highway right down to your bottom,” says Goddard.
Treat your clothing with a spray containing the insecticide permethrin that will kill ticks on contact. (Deep bug spray also works, but not as well,’ says Goddard.) Ultimately, checking your body for ticks after outdoor activities is key, says Goddard. If you spot ticks, remove them immediately with tweezers by grasping it close to your skin and pulling it straight up.
Mark tick bites on a calendar so that if you get sick in the next few weeks, you can let your doctor know you were bitten and the date of the bite, says Goddard. There are a number of paid services that will check for ticks for disease, as well as some state health departments and research organizations that will do the same for free. Such an organization, NYticks.org, run by Thangamani’s lab. The researchers examined nearly 20,000 ticks, mostly from New York state, and had a real-time dashboard of status data that showed which pathogens were present in which counties.
“Real-time data presentation is a very unique and very very powerful thing,” says Thangamani.
Originally published on Live Science
https://www.livescience.com/tick-season-tick-illnesses Tick-borne illnesses are on the rise. Here’s how to protect yourself.