Deer Ticks and Deer Tick Bite Information
There are two species of ticks, usually referred to as deer
ticks,that are the primary carriers of Lyme disease. They are the
blacklegged tick Ixodes scapularis (formerly known as Ixodes dammini),
and Ixodes pacificus. I. scapularis is usually found in
the North, East and Midwest, while I. pacificus, the western
blacklegged tick is found in California and the Pacific Coast.
Ixodia ticks are very small. Much smaller than dog or cat ticks. The
juvenile is about the size of a pinhead, the largest deer tick being
three-sixteenths of an inch. If you have ever had or seen "seed" ticks, you know
how small a tick can be. Ticks have eight legs and two body
A Lyme disease infection can occur after a deer tick
is attached to a human or other host for twelve to twenty-four hours.
An infected deer tick has Borrelia that lives in the tick's
mid-gut. Ticks are parasites that insert their mouth parts into their hots
and suck blood for several days. When it attaches and feeds, the
Borrelia moves into the salivary gland and enters the humans blood,
Obviously finding and removing the tick as quickly as possible is
important to preventing infection. The longer the tick feeds, the more likely
for it to pass along a disease. There is an incubation time of three to
thirty-two days before the disease develops.
Deer ticks can also carry
babesiosis and human granulytic ehrlichiosis, two other health threats.
Lyme disease is usually acquired in spring through summer when the tick
population is its highest and when more people are outdoors. In the past
it was thought that ticks could be in the trees and then drop down on people
below. That isn't true. Ticks are in the grass and on the shrubs and
attach themselves when a host brushes by them. Ticks can not jump or fly,
they only crawl. Deer ticks have several impressive methods for looking for
hosts. These include monitoring carbon dioxide levels of victims, body
heat, and other chemical indicators.
If you have pets that go
outdoors, they should be wearing flea and tick collars, especially in areas
close to woods or if deer are coming into your yard. If you have deer
coming to your yard regularly, you might consider having your yard treated with
a flea/tick control product.