Ticks are a serious threat in the United States and a pest control issue that every homeowner should know how to guard against. The diseases spread by ticks can have lifelong medical implications if symptoms are not linked to a tick bite and treated early. Lyme disease can lead to chronic fatigue, restless sleep, joint and muscle pain, short-term memory issues, speech problems and complications for other illnesses that creep in with old age. A new tick-related meat allergy is becoming more and more common across the country, with more than 3,000 cases being reported annually. Not to mention dozens of other complicated illnesses that are hard to track because the symptoms are easily mistaken for a wide range of other diseases. The more scientists learn about tick-related diseases, the more they realize the incredible impact they have been having on U.S. citizens for a long time. So, where does the American dog tick fit into the big picture? Let’s take a look.
First, it is important to understand that the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) are not the same tick. While both prefer dogs as a host, the brown dog tick is able to complete its entire life cycle indoors. That makes it a pernicious tick to get rid of. American dog ticks don’t do well indoors. They prefer to be outside in low vegetation where larger wildlife can be taken as a host.
This tick is the primary vector for Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Don’t let the name fool you. RMSF is not found exclusively in the Rocky Mountains. It is the most common rickettsial infection in the United States, especially in southeastern and south-central U.S. Symptoms include fever, rash, headache, nausea, vomiting, stomach and muscle pain, and lack of appetite. Patients who recover from a severe case of RMSF can be left with permanent damage such as an amputated leg, arm, or appendages, hearing loss, paralysis, or a mental disability. It can also lead to human mortality if not treated early with the right antibiotic.
The American dog tick is also known to transmit tularemia. Symptoms of tularemia include fever, chills, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, skin ulcers, and severe headaches. Severe symptoms that can develop are diarrhea, vomiting, chronic heart failure, swelling of the brain and spinal cord, and even death.
It goes without saying that every homeowner should know how to properly identify an American dog tick. An adult, unfed American dog tick is 5 mm in length. When it is engorged, it can grow to be 15 mm. Unengorged adults are brown with whitish to gray markings. Engorged adults will have a prominent gray coloration.
If you have dogs or cats, this tick can be more of a threat, especially when pets go in and out of the home. These ticks prefer larger animals and are less likely to be brought in by rodents. It is vital that your pets have veterinarian-prescribed tick products.
- Avoid tall grass and wooded areas to avoid questing ticks.
- Ticks cling and crawl up. Wear pants to make it harder for ticks to find skin to attach to.
- Make sure your pet has a collar. Ticks usually work their way up to the ears of your pet. When they do, that collar will help to eliminate them.
- A mosquito repellent with DEET or permethrin works well to prevent ticks from crawling up pants. There are mosquito repellents available for pets as well. Consider using one as added protection if you’ll be in an area where ticks are a concern.
- Early detection and removal is key to avoiding illness. Always do a check for ticks when you come back in from the outside. And learn how to properly remove a tick.
- Invest in year-round tick service for your home to significantly reduce ticks in your backyard.
For tick infestations or tick reduction in East Texas, start here. Innovative Pest Control is an industry-leading residential and commercial pest management company with a reputation for friendly service and effective pest control. Contact us and schedule tick control services today!