The very nature of ticks is enough to make anyone squeamish. The thought of an insect or parasite that feasts on the blood of humans and domesticated animals is proof that real life can be stranger than fiction. Along with making our skin crawl with repulsion at the thought of being the featured item on the tick’s blood buffet these nasty creatures are quite dangerous. Ticks carry a myriad of bacteria and disease which is easily transferred to humans with just one bite. With the warmer season finally upon us ticks will be making their debut all over the Greenville area. Ticks in our neck of the woods are known vectors of several illnesses. Here is a rundown of those transmitted by ticks here in the Carolinas:
- Ehrlichiosis – Ehrlichiosis is a general name for several bacterial diseases affecting both people and animals. Transmission of Ehrlichiosis is linked to the lone star tick which is found in the southeastern and south-central United States, including North and South Carolina. The symptoms of this illness are generally apparent within one to two weeks of being bitten by a tick carrying the bacteria that causes Ehrlichiosis. Symptoms are usually flu-like in nature and include fever, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. Other signs and symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, joint pains, confusion, and occasionally a rash, particularly in children. The disease is usually diagnosed through clinical signs and symptoms and when caught early will respond well to antibiotic therapy. If left untreated Ehrlichiosis can become a severe or even fatal illness. As much as half of those diagnosed with the disease require hospitalization.
- Lyme disease – Lyme disease is probably the most well-known of all the tick-borne illnesses and cases have been reported in North Carolina. Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of a deer tick which is also known as the black legged tick. The tick becomes infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease by feeding from rodents and birds infected with the bacteria. These same hosts are also the basis of ticks becoming infected with Babesiosis and human Anaplasmosis. Research indicates that even a female tick that is infected with the Lyme bacteria will spawn healthy disease free larvae.
Lyme disease presents symptoms that are similar in nature to the flu such as fever, headache and fatigue. Lyme disease symptoms may also include the well-known bull’s eye rash called erythema migraine which expands in red circles around the site of a bite from a tick infected with the bacteria. It is a misconception that this rash is the tell-tale sign of Lyme disease in because in some cases the infected show no rash at all. When Lyme disease is diagnosed early it is usually easily treatable with antibiotics. If Lyme is left untreated it too can become severe and can lead to neurological or cardiac disorders and even death. In extreme cases patients can develop what is called Chronic Lyme disease or Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome even following prompt treatment. This disorder occurs in approximately 10-20% of Lyme disease patients and can lead to extended discomfort and “flare ups” of symptoms which include fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches. The source of Chronic Lyme disease is thought to be caused by residual damage to tissues and the immune system that occurred during the infection.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever – Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), is a potentially fatal illness caused by the bite of an infected American dog tick, brown dog tick, and Rocky Mountain wood tick. RMSF is the most common tick-borne illness in the Carolinas. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever include lethargy, fever, headache, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dark circles around the eyes and muscle pain. A spotted rash on the extremities may also develop but is often absent in the first few days, and in some patients, may never develop. A scab may also develop at the site of the tick bite. Antibiotics are most effective if started before the fifth day of symptoms. The illness is diagnosed in the early stages through clinical signs and symptoms. Blood tests can be conducted to diagnose the illness as well. Early detection and treatment is the key to halting the progression of RMSF. If left untreated the illness can cause complications such as damage to multiple organ systems, profound neurological deficit issues, amputation of limbs due to the damage caused in the process of the disease and even death.
- Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI) – With a name like STARI this illness makes you think of a pleasant starry Southern sky on a summer night. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. This illness is characterized by a rash which includes a red, expanding “bull’s eye” lesion that develops around the site of a lone star tick bite. The rash may be accompanied by fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint pains. STARI is easily treated through antibiotic therapy and unlike Lyme disease; STARI has not been linked to any arthritic, neurological or chronic symptoms.
Our service delivers peace of mind and the power to take control of your backyard and enjoy the warmer seasons ahead with confidence. Contact Mosquito Squad of Greenville today to learn more. Call us today for a free quote at (864) 362-2013!
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