Ticks are small crawling bugs that have eight legs and are related to spiders and mites. They are arachnids, not insects. Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of humans and animals in order to survive. They are called vectors (carriers) because they can feed on a Lyme disease-infected animal (such as a mouse), then carry and transmit the Lyme bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) to the next animal or person they bite.

WHICH TICKS CARRY LYME DISEASE?

There are hundreds of different kinds of ticks throughout the world. The Ixodes tick (commonly called a blacklegged tick or deer tick) are ticks that carry Lyme disease. In the eastern and mid-western U.S, the primary species is Ixodes scapularis (or deer tick) and the related western U.S. version is the Ixodes pacificus (western blacklegged tick).

These ticks that carry Lyme disease can also carry bacterial co-infections, such as Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. While Lyme disease is the most common infection from a tick, co-infections can complicate one’s Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment.

WHAT SEASON DO TICKS  THAT CARRY LYME DISEASE THRIVE?

Ticks that carry Lyme disease are active year-round and can survive in below-freezing temperatures, although their peak season of activity begins in April and runs through September. During this time, the hungry nymphal tick (about as small as a poppy seed) actively seeks a host, and its bite poses the greatest risk.

WHERE ARE TICKS THAT CARRY LYME DISEASE FOUND?

Ticks that carry Lyme disease tick can be found anywhere their hosts live, in short, anywhere in the world. They prefer moist shady areas. The phrase “deer tick,” the name commonly used for the species of ticks that carry Lyme disease, is somewhat of a misnomer. Although deer are important as reproductive hosts in the lifecycle of these ticks, other vertebrate animals actually infect the ticks with disease organisms — not the deer. These animals include white-footed mice, chipmunks, shrews, several species of ground feeding birds (American robin, finches, wrens, bluejays, etc.), and many other small mammals. Lyme disease ticks can be found in:

  • Leaf litter
  • Woodpiles
  • Stonewalls
  • Tall grass, bushy areas and beach grass
  • Areas planted with pachysandra or other ground covers
  • Lawn perimeters where they meet forest, woodlot or garden edges

PROTECT YOUR PETS

dogs lymeTick bite prevention is crucial for all members of your family, including pets. The risk to your dog of contracting Lyme or other tick-borne disease is on the rise. Research shows that cases of Lyme and other TBDs among dogs has increased 112% over the last five years (Companion Animal Parasite Council).

This increased risk to our pets means an increased risk to you and your family, as ticks target both ends of the leash. If your pet, particularly dogs, goes outdoors they are at an increased risk for getting a tick bite. Add to that, your pet can serve as a tick taxi and will unwittingly carry ticks inside your home, exposing you and your family to a tick bite.

 

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