Ticks aren’t just pests; they are dangerous arachnids that can spread diseases to you, your family, and your pets. While we are all familiar with Lyme disease, that is only one of many illnesses that ticks spread. Today, we are going to take a more in-depth look into the many illnesses that ticks can transmit as well as which ticks can spread which diseases. Continue reading to learn more and if you are in need of tick extermination and control services, contact the Sacramento pest control experts at Earthwise Pest Management.
Lyme disease is the most well-known illness spread by ticks. In most cases, it is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is commonly spread by the deer tick which is also sometimes called the black-legged tick. Symptoms of Lyme disease include a bulls-eye shaped rash at the bite site, fever, headache, and fatigue. If Lyme disease goes untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics.
Anaplasmosis is also carried and transmitted most commonly by the deer tick. It is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. Anaplasmosis is often treated with the antibiotic, Doxycycline.
Babesiosis is an illness spread by ticks that is caused by microscopic parasites that infect your red blood cells. Babesiosis is often carried by the deer tick. Many people who become infected with Babesiosis show no symptoms at all, but some can develop flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, headache, nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite. People who develop no symptoms usually don’t need treatment, but those who are symptomatic should be treated with an antiparasitic drug. Some individuals who have life-threatening diseases such as cancer, AIDs, or kidney disease may experience more severe symptoms.
Deer ticks can also be responsible for spreading the bacterium, Borrelia mayonii. Although rarer, this bacterium has also been shown to cause Lyme disease. Those who develop Lyme disease from Borrelia mayonii present with many of the same symptoms as those develop it from Borrelia burgdorferi, but may also experience nausea, vomiting, and larger, wide-spread rashes.
Borrelia miyamotoi is a spiral-shaped bacteria that is a distant relative of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. This bacteria is often carried by the Deer Tick and causes fatigue, joint pain, body pain, fever, chills, and headache. Borrelia miyamotoi can be treated with antibiotics.
According to the CDC, the Bourbon virus is not well-studied yet as there have not been a great number of cases. But in the cases that have been studied, symptoms included fever, fatigue, rash, headache, nausea, vomiting, and body aches. It’s believed that the Bourbon virus can be spread by ticks and some insects. Antibiotics are not effective on viruses so doctors tend to treat the symptoms of the Bourbon virus.
Colorado Tick Fever
Colorado Tick Fever is an RNA virus spread by Rocky Mountain wood ticks. When in the larva and nymph stage, the ticks feed on small rodents such as squirrels, mice, and chipmunks who are infected, and then as adults they transfer the virus to humans and other large mammals with their bite. The symptoms of Colorado Tick Fever include body aches, headaches, fever, chills, fatigue, sore throat, vomiting, abdominal pain, and a skin rash. There are no medications to treat Colorado Tick Fever, but most people who become infected only experience mild symptoms and recover fully.
Ehrilichoisis is the name that is used to describe the disease caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia chaffeensis, E. ewingii, or E. muris eauclairensis. Most commonly Enchrichoisis is spread by the deer tick and lone star tick. Symptoms can include nausea, fever, chills, headache, and muscle ache and can be treated with antibiotics.
The Heartland Virus is spread by the lone star tick as well as mosquitoes and sandflies. Symptoms of the Heartland Virus include headache, nausea, diarrhea, muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue, fever, and decreased appetite. There is no treatment for the Heartland Virus, instead, the symptoms are usually managed with medication.
Powassan Virus Disease
The Powassan Virus Disease can be spread by three different tick species: the groundhog tick, the squirrel tick, and the deer tick. When the ticks are in the larva and nymph stage, they feed on small rodents where they can contract the virus. When the ticks then feed on humans or other large mammals as adults, they pass on the virus.
Powassan Virus Disease can cause no symptoms or problems in some people, but 10% of people who get infected with the virus die. In addition, of those who do experience severe symptoms and survive, half end up with life-long health problems. There is no medication to treat the virus, instead, the symptoms must be managed with medications.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF)
Rocky Moutain Spotted Fever can be spread by the American dog tick, the rocky mountain wood tick, and the brown dog tick and is one of the most serious tick-borne illnesses in America. Early symptoms of RMSF included fever, rash, headache, muscle pain, stomach pain, vomiting, and nausea. However, these mild symptoms can quickly progress into a life-threatening illness. RMSF is one of the deadliest tick-borne illnesses in the U.S. RMSF should be treated early with antibiotics for the best results. Those who experience severe symptoms and survive can experience permanent damage including the amputation of extremities.
Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)
While the exact cause of STARI is unknown, we do know that it can occur after someone has been bit by the lone star tick. Symptoms are usually similar to those of Lyme disease including a rash, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, and fever. Since doctors do not know whether STARI is caused by bacteria or a virus, it’s impossible to know if there is an effective treatment.
Tickborne Relapsing Fever (TBRF)
Tickborne Relapsing Fever is carried by soft ticks of the genus Ornithodoros. Soft ticks do not remain attached to their host for long periods of time, but instead, usually feed for about an hour at a time. These particular soft ticks mostly feed on small rodents. Most cases occur when people sleep in rodent-infested cabins or caves and are exposed to the tick’s bite. Symptoms of Tickborne Relapsing Fever include a high fever, headache, muscle pain, and joint pain. The symptoms typically follow a pattern of a three-day fever followed by seven days without a fever and then another three with a fever and so on. Tickborne Relapsing Fever can be treated with antibiotics.
Tularemia is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted by the wood tick, the lone star tick, and the dog tick. Tularemia can also be transmitted through the skin of a sick or dying animal including pets that have been infected by a tick. It can also be transmitted through drinking contaminated water.
Tularemia can be dangerous if left untreated and symptoms usually reflect how the person was infected. The most common form of Tularemia that occurs from a tick bite is ulceroglandular and results in a skin ulcer appearing at the site of infection and swelling of lymph glands in the groin or armpit.
364D Rickettsiosis (Pacific Coast Tick Fever)
Pacific Coast Tick Fever is caused by the bacteria R. philipii, which was previously known as Rickettsia sp. 364D. It is commonly spread by the pacific coast tick and causes symptoms such as a dark scab at the site of the tick bite, fever, headache, rash, and muscle aches. Pacific Coast Tick Fever is often carried and spread by ticks that feed on the common house mouse. Pacific Coast Tick Fever is treatable with antibiotics.