Ticks are most active in the warm summer months. Most of the time, they’re just annoying pests trying to gorge themselves on an unfortunate host, but they can transmit very serious diseases. This video of a young girl with tick paralysis has made the news lately. Lyme disease and the Powassan virus are two tick-borne diseases to watch out for this summer.
Deer and black-legged ticks are the only species known to spread Lyme disease. These ticks live in the upper Midwest and the Northeast U.S., which is why the disease is primarily found in those areas. People get Lyme disease from tick bites. Most ticks need to feed for 24-48 hours to successfully transmit the infection.
A bullseye rash like this one is typically the first sign of a Lyme infection. It will start out as a small red spot and eventually expand over the coming weeks. Other symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, joint aches and facial paralysis. If untreated, Lyme disease can cause arthritis, severe joint pain, nerve pain and heart problems. Fortunately, if caught early enough, Lyme disease can almost always be cured with antibiotics.
It’s rare for humans to get the Powassan virus from an infected tick, but there are an increasing number cases being reported in recent years. The virus was first discovered in Powassan, Ontario, in 1958 and has since spread to the Northeast and Great Lakes regions of the U.S. Wisconsin reported 16 severe infections between 2006 and 2015.
Experts from the National Pest Management Association say infections usually happen from June to September. Once bitten by a tick, it can take as little as 15 minutes for the virus to transmit to a person. Powassan infection symptoms take about one to three weeks to appear. They include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures and memory loss. About 15% of cases are fatal, so it is vital to see a doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Protecting Yourself Against Tick-Borne Diseases
The best way to prevent tick-borne diseases is to protect yourself from tick bites. Make it a point to:
-Avoid walking through tall grasses and vegetation
-Put on socks and closed-toed shoes when hiking
-Wear light-colored clothes, long sleeves and pants tucked into socks or boots if you are hiking through tall grasses or heavily wooded areas
-Wear insect repellent effective against ticks
-Clear brush from around your home
-Avoid contact with mice, squirrels and other small mammals that may have picked up ticks
-Check yourself and pets for ticks before going inside
If a tick does bite you, remove it from your skin as quickly as possible. Use a tweezers to pull out the tick and then clean the area of the bite. Follow these detailed instructions from the Centers for Disease Control for more safe removal tips.
Have more questions about ticks? Contact a friendly pest expert from K&C Pest Control.