The black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) is a known carrier of Lyme disease with an established population in the eastern United States.
Photo: Black-legged tick via Unsplash
Only two types of ticks — black-legged ticks and Western black-legged ticks — are known to transmit the Borrelia bacteria, which causes Lyme disease. However, over 900 species of the arachnid are known to exist around the world.
Ticks go on “questing” until they find a host to latch onto — always on the lookout for body heat, vibrations, and moisture. Once they find refuge on the host’s body, they invade the skin through a feeding tube to suck on tier blood — secreting their saliva onto the wound, which prevents the host’s blood from clotting while keeping them unaware of the wound.
Ticks look like small bugs, ranging in size from a pinhead to a pencil eraser, often having eight legs. They range from reddish-brown to black in color, and continue to swell up as they feed on their host — sometimes turning greenish-blue.
A tick bite does not cause pain or itching, but the reaction differs from person to person. Some people may exhibit signs of allergy, including redness and itchiness around the bite or a small bump.
To minimize the risk of tick-borne conditions, check for tick bites whenever you get back home after spending time in an area that might be infested with ticks.
Examine your pets and other gear after they have been outdoors. Run your fingers around your pet’s fur to check for any small pumps, checking the following areas:
If you do find a tick, crushing it may not work and may instead increase the risk of being exposed to pathogens. Instead, you can flush the tick or kill it with alcohol. Embedded ticks should be removed carefully with tweezers, followed by disinfecting the bite.