Ticks in Humans


Ticks are small wingless parasitic dipterous insects that look like arachnids. They attach to the skin of animals and humans and feed on blood. Most tick bites go unrecognized because they are painless. Most people do not know they have been bitten by a tick until they show symptoms. There are more than 850 tick species and about 100 of them are capable of transmitting diseases. Ticks can be found almost everywhere. The most common type of tick is the deer tick.


Tick bites can be prevented by applying insect repellent. Follow the direction on the label, especially when using on children. Some repellents can only be safely applied to clothing and not the skin, so read the instructions. For applying repellent on children, use a lower concentration repellent. Never put repellent on young children's hands, because they will often put their hands in their mouth. When returning from outside, wash off repellent with soap and water. In addition, when possible wear light colored clothing that covers your arms and legs.


Ticks tend to live in wooded areas, warm climates, bushes and shrubs. Typically, wherever you see deer, mice and other animals that roam in a wooded area, the tick is sure to be. Ticks crawl slow and can only travel distances by attaching itself to a person, bird or animal. This is the classic way of how ticks end up in someone's backyard.


Ticks are capable of transmitting diseases to humans. Two diseases that are commonly carried by ticks include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks need time to attach and feed off human blood. Generally, it takes them from 36 to 48 hours to attach, feed and transmit the spirochete, which is the cause of Lyme disease. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by an infectious agent called, Rickettsia rickettsii. Ticks become carriers of these diseases by feeding on infected rodents.


For the most part tick bites are painless and do not cause symptoms. However, there are occasions where symptoms will be present as a result of a reaction to the tick secretion. Some of the symptoms include fever, headaches, flu like symptoms, joint pain, fatigue, muscle pain, and muscle weakness. In addition there are also some skin reactions that will indicate a tick bite. These skin reactions are pus-filled bumps and nodules. Paralysis can also occur as a result of a tick bite, however this is rare.


Tick bites can be treated at home or you can seek medical treatment. Remember that ticks needs to be removed from the skin immediately. If you are unsure on how to do this seek medical attention. Your medical practitioner will give you the proper treatment based on the type of tick, length of attachment and the symptoms you have. Some of the basic medical treatments are cleansing, antibiotic cream, Benadryl (for itching) and oral antibiotics.

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