Why Ticks Are Attracted to Humans
Why Ticks Are Attracted to Humans
- 1 Why Ticks Are Attracted to Humans
- 2 Tick Testing
- 3 These horrifying pictures show the exact tick bite symptoms to look for
- 4 Where and how to pass a tick for analysis, which doctor to contact if a tick has bitten.
- 5 Diagnosis Coding for Tick Bites
- 6 How to Post a Product in the Market
Tick-borne diseases are on the rise globally, making it more important than ever to get educated about what attracts ticks to humans, how to avoid contact, and how to detect symptoms of tick-borne illnesses.
What attracts ticks to humans?
Ticks – part of an order of the Arachnid family, which they share with spiders and mites – are external parasites that live on the blood of their hosts. There are four stages of a tick’s lifecycle, and ticks need a blood meal at each one. If they don’t find a host at each new stage, they die.
Image Source: Dr. Christopher Paddock https://phil.cdc.gov/Details.aspx?pid=10879
In other words, ticks need humans (and other animals) to survive. When it comes to what actually attracts ticks to humans, a combination of biological imperatives and chemical clues help ticks seek out, find, and feed on their human hosts.
While humans make great hosts for ticks, they’re not the only animal ticks seek out. Ticks can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and even amphibians.
How ticks find their hosts
Ticks live on their hosts’ blood, and humans are a common and convenient host. Conventional wisdom about ticks confirms this: the best tick prevention advice warns people to avoid tick habitats, wear protective clothing and tick repellant if possible, and always check for ticks after possible exposure. Ticks are out there, just waiting to hitch a ride.
But how exactly do they find humans to feed on? Below is a short breakdown of tick behavior.
Ticks aren’t very good at seeing shapes, which means they usually can’t tell just by sight that a human is walking around. Instead, ticks use special sensors to detect the carbon dioxide humans breathe out, as well as other human odors. (Research shows that ticks will flock to dry ice – solid carbon dioxide – that has been laid out for them.) Ticks can also track changes in environment, and some can even see shadows.
When it’s feeding time – generally during summer months, though ticks can strike anywhere at any time – ticks will wait on shrubs or blades of grass and perform an activity called “questing,” in which they cling to the plant with their back two pairs of legs and extend their front pair of legs into the air. When an animal (like a human) brushes past, the ticks will use their front legs to climb on, where they either attach quickly or crawl around to find a suitable spot to feed.
What are the most common feeding spots for ticks?
Ticks prefer to feed in well-hidden areas where the skin is thin enough to puncture easily. This is why the area around the ears is such a common place for ticks to feed on both humans and pets. Since ticks depend on blood to survive, they’ll do what they can to avoid detection, hiding in spots where they’ll be hard to see, like in your hair.
How ticks feed on humans (and transmit diseases)
You won’t feel a bite
Many ticks first secrete saliva with anesthetic properties at the attachment site to numb the area before inserting their feeding tubes. This means you won’t feel the bite, and the tick can live to see another day – and potentially pass on dangerous pathogens – right under your nose.
A germ for a germ
It’s when the tick is attached that the risk of disease presents itself. The exchange of your blood and the tick’s saliva at the attachment site creates an exchange of germs, too. Any pathogens in the host’s blood will be ingested by the tick through the blood meal, and any pathogens they’ve previously ingested can be transferred to the host’s bloodstream through the tick’s saliva. This is what makes them a “vector” for illnesses.
Tick prevention is disease prevention
Ticks are some of the most common vectors for diseases like Lyme disease and Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever (TBRF). As climate change causes warmer global temperatures, tick endemicity is expanding, making the risk of contracting a tick-borne disease even greater. It’s more important than ever to learn about the most common tick-borne illnesses and how to prevent them.
- Avoidtick habitats. While ticks can live anywhere, in any state – including indoors – hotspots include grassy or wooded areas, debris piles, fallen branches, and wood piles or even bird feeders (both of which can attract other tick-feeding wildlife, like rodents). Keep to the center of trails while hiking or camping.
- Protect yourself with long sleeves and pants tucked into socks, light-colored clothing (which can make it easier to spot ticks, which are dark in color), and tick repellant if possible.
- Perform tick checks and shower immediately after possible exposure, such as camping, hiking, or picnicking outdoors.
- Carefully remove any ticksand save them for testing. To have the tick tested at IGeneX, just place the tick (dead or alive) in a small plastic tube or sealed bag, enclose it in an envelope, fill out the Tick Test Request Form, and mail the tick to IGeneX.
- Track symptoms that may indicate tick-borne diseases and talk to your doctor about getting tested for tick-borne illnesses. You can use the IGeneX Symptom Tracker to keep careful track of your symptoms.
To learn more about what to do if you find a tick on you, read What To Do After You’ve Been Bitten By a Tick.
Important: Under no circumstance should you delay treatment. This includes seeing a specialist in tick-borne illness and getting tested with the latest testing technology at a reputable center. The IgXSpot test from IGeneX detects certain tick-borne diseases in their early stages. An accurate diagnosis depends on a careful analysis of your symptoms along with test results; a misdiagnosis can be incredibly costly and dangerous. Learn more about IGeneX testing today.
There are places where the public can have ticks tested to see if they contain the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, or to see if they contain other disease organisms which can infect humans or other animals. There are generally charges for these services.
- IGeneX Labs, Palo Alto, CA: 800-832-3200 www.IGENEX.com
- MDL, Mt. Laurel, NJ: 877-269-0090 www.mdlab.com
- NJ Labs, New Brunswick, NJ: 732-249-0148 http://njlabs.com/index.cfm
- Clongen Laboratories, Gaithersburg, MD 301-916-0173 https://www.clongen.com/
1) Monmouth County (NJ) Mosquito Control Tick Testing for Monmouth County Residents ONLY
State of Georgia Tick Testing
Residents who find an attached tick are asked to call the Georgia Poison Center (404-616-9000 or 800-222-1222) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for information about tick removal, identification, and testing. The Georgia Poison Center will provide information about how to mail the tick to get it tested when you call. The University of Georgia will test the tick for the bacteria that cause tick-borne diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), and tularemia, depending on the species of tick. An expert in tick illness from the Georgia Division of Public Health will call you to ask you some questions about exposures to tick habitats and find out if you developed symptoms of tick-borne illness. You will get the results of the tick testing when it is done.
These horrifying pictures show the exact tick bite symptoms to look for
HTV National Desk
Published 3:05 pm EDT, Friday, July 26, 2019
You just spent the day outside hiking, grilling or tending to your yard — but now you have a nasty, red, scratchy, bumpy bite on your arm. Could it be a tick bite?
Unfortunately, figuring out the source of your bug bite can be tricky, especially because mosquitoes, spiders and fleas also come out when warmer weather hits — not to mention, bedbugs and other critters that may wind up in your home.
“Tick and other insect bites can look similar,” said Griffin Dill, Ph.D., coordinator of the Cooperative Extension: Tick Lab at The University of Maine. “Without finding a tick attached and feeding, it’s hard to differentiate one bite site from another.”
But treating and preventing these bites can help keep nasty tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease out of your future — so knowing how to identify a bite is crucial. Here are the signs and symptoms to watch out for, plus tick bite pictures to refer to when you suspect the blood-sucking critter has made its way onto your skin.
What does a tick bite look like, exactly?
The signs of a tick bite actually vary from person to person, since everyone’s immune system reacts differently to them, explains Thomas Mather, Ph. D., director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease and Tick Encounter Resource Center. While someone may have a small, red bump after the tick detaches, others may develop an area of redness and itchiness.
Your best bet is to find the tick while it’s still on your skin. “Ticks are designed to linger when they attach and bite,” said Mather. The mouth of a tick contains a bunch of backward-pointing barbs that they use to stay put, meaning they are “designed to lock and load,” as Mather put it. The biters also secrete a cement-like substance around their mouths to keep them stuck even if they were to be, say, absentmindedly scratched.
Depending on where the tick is in its life cycle — larva (baby, six legs), nymph (eight legs) or adult stage (full-sized) — it can stick around anywhere from three to six days, Mather says. The longer they’re feeding, the bigger they get — and the greater the risk of transmitting disease.
If you’ve been previously bitten, there’s a greater chance you will have an allergic reaction to the tick saliva within 20 to 40 hours of the bite, says Mather. After a bite, the area may appear as a small red spot that doesn’t expand to be larger than a dime. However, more severe reactions can occur, and rashes can develop. Because tick bite signs vary wildly and can mimic the appearance of other insects, even tick experts can’t always tell one red mark from another.
Where do ticks bite?
You can find a tick bite anywhere. “Although they can and do attach to any part of the body, there are certain body parts they more commonly move toward, like the hairline, or in tucked-away places, like the armpits, groin and behind knees,” said Dill. Recently, doctors even discovered a tick attached to a 9-year-old boy’s eardrum.
Are tick bites itchy? Do they hurt?
Generally, tick bites do not hurt. You might feel a bite — but you may have no idea when it happens, either. Both are possible.
“Early in the process of biting, ticks inject a pain mediator via their saliva,” said Mather. Because it’s more likely that subsequent bites will elicit a reaction, the first bite can often go unnoticed, he says. However, many people do find them itchy. If you continue to itch at a certain spot on your body, Mather encourages you to take a look to see what you’re scratching at, since it’s one common way people find ticks.
Does a tick bite always cause a rash?
You’ve probably heard of the classic “bullseye” rash, which is one of the most distinct symptoms of Lyme disease. This circular rash is dark in the center and expands outward, like a bullseye, appearing about a week after the bite on any part of the body. It doesn’t always look like that, though. You may have a crusty spot with a splotch of redness around it that gets bigger, bluish rashes or a red, oval plaque, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The catch is, this rash only appears 70 to 80% of the time, says the CDC. Remember that not all ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease; there are other types of rashes associated with other tick-borne illnesses. For instance, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause a red, speckled rash that appears first on wrists and ankles.
It’s also important to keep in mind that rashes can be tough to distinguish from one another. The CDC has a whole page on rashes that resemble the bullseye associated with Lyme, but aren’t. These include large, itchy rashes, the ringworm fungus and hives. If you’re concerned about any rash or worried you may have been bitten by a tick (or know you have), call your doctor. In certain circumstances, doctors can prescribe a course of preventative antibiotics if Lyme disease is suspected or you live in a state with a high risk of Lyme.
How to treat a tick bite
First, don’t panic. If you find one attached to your skin, remove the tick as quickly as possible using a set of fine-tipped tweezers. Grab the tick as closely to the surface of your skin as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. If mouth-parts are left in the skin, try your best to remove them, but if not, just let your skin heal normally, says the CDC. Then, make sure to clean the bite area with soap and water or alcohol.
Dispose of the tick in a sealed bag or container wrapped up tightly in tape, or by flushing it down the toilet, says the CDC. Never crush it with your fingers, and of course, in the weeks to follow, you should keep an eye out for any lingering symptoms, like a rash. See your doctor if you experience flu-like symptoms, such as achy muscles, fever, swollen lymph nodes other unusual reactions that don’t feel normal.
Ticks can be tiny (sometimes no bigger than a poppy seed!) and easily missed, so it’s important to do thorough body check after you’ve spent time outdoors. Be sure to look carefully under your arms, around your ears, inside your belly button, behind your knees, between your legs and in your hair. “Checking yourself, kids and pets can go a long way in minimizing contact with these critters,” said Dill.
And as always, stock up on the best tick repellents before your next outdoor adventure.
Where and how to pass a tick for analysis, which doctor to contact if a tick has bitten.
THE GOVERNMENT CREATED LYME DISEASE