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Ticks and Four Illnesses They Carry

Updated on April 15, 2019
BrittanyRockette profile image

Brittany is the supermom of 5 little box trolls who enjoys writing about a wide range of topics to inform people.

Ticks are small parasites that have three life stages: larvae, nymph, and adult. Tick larvae are the size of a grain of sand and have a transparent, brownish appearance. Nymphs resemble the size of a sesame seed and are brown or reddish-brown in color. Adult ticks are as big as a pencil eraser, sometimes an apple seed and are yellowish brown, reddish-brown or dark brown in appearance. Ticks range in size from three to five millimeter long.

Ticks That Are Indigenous to the Mid-Atlantic

Ticks that are commonly found in the Mid-Atlantic are

  • Black-legged Tick
  • Groundhog Tick
  • Gulf Coast Tick
  • Lone Star Tick

Black-legged Tick - transmit Lyme disease, Powassan virus, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, relapsing fever, and Ehrlichiosis. People are most likely to be bitten by the Black-legged tick during the spring, summer, and the fall. All life stages of this tick bite humans, but nymphs and females are more prevalent during these spring, summer, and fall seasons. During the winter when temperatures are above freezing, adult Black-legged ticks come out to look for hosts.

Groundhog Tick - transmit Powassan virus and is also known as woodchuck ticks. All life stages of the groundhog tick feed on warm-blooded animals, including raccoons, squirrels, groundhogs, foxes, skunks, and more. The Groundhog tick occasionally feeds on people.

Gulf Coast Tick - transmit R. parkeri, which is a form of spotted fever. Gulf Coast Tick larvae and nymphs feed on small rodents and birds. The adult ticks transmit spotted fever to humans and feed on deer and similar wildlife.

Lone Star Tick - an aggressive type of tick that causes human Ehrlichiosis, tularemia virus, and STARI (Southern tick-associated rash illness). Lone Star Ticks are the most active during the spring and late part of the fall. Lone Star Tick nymphs and females are responsible for human bites.

Different Types of Ticks

Tick-Borne Illnesses That Are Common In the Mid-Atlantic

Tick-borne illnesses commonly contracted in the Mid-Atlantic are

  • Lyme disease
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Ehrlichiosis

Lyme disease - is most often spread by Deer Tick nymphs because they are harder to see than adults. A Deer Tick needs to be attached for at least 36 hours before a person or animal becomes infected with Lyme disease. Symptoms of this disease include fatigue, headache, muscle pains, and a rash.

Anaplasmosis - is spread due to an infected tick bite. People and animals who are bitten will experience symptoms one to two weeks after the incident. Individuals may experience all or some of the symptoms associated with this disease, including chills, cough, confusion, abdominal pain, nausea, headache, and more.

Ehrlichiosis - includes many bacterial diseases that affect animals and humans, and is spread by the Lone Star Tick. Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis include fever, chills, headache, rash, diarrhea, and general discomfort.

How to Avoid Ticks and Their Bites

Preventing tick bites means preventing them from coming into contact with your skin. A chemical repellent containing picaridin, DEET (diethyltoluamide) or permethrin is the best to use. Pants should be securely tucked into the socks. Avoid areas where there are high tick presence, most likely areas that are wooded or grassy. Adults, children, and pets should be checked daily for ticks if you live in an area that is prone to ticks.

First-Aid for Removing Ticks

Ticks need to be removed promptly and carefully. The best tools to use to remove ticks are sharp tweezers or fine-tipped forceps. Try to get as close to the head of the tick as possible to have the best outcome of removing it whole. Remove this parasite in an upward motion without squeezing or twisting its body.

Never touch a tick with your bare hands. Once you have the tick in the tweezers or forceps, store it in a container or a plastic sandwich bag. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water. Use rubbing alcohol afterward on both of your hands.

If you are experiencing severe headaches, heart palpitations, paralysis or difficulty breathing, call 911 or have someone take you to the hospital. If you cannot entirely remove the tick or you have a rash that starts to cover more of your body, you need to be seen at an emergency facility immediately.

How to Remove a Tick

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Brittany N Rockette


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