The number of ticks — and tick bites — has increased in recent years, a leading expert warned, but Americans can protect themselves from pests this summer with just a few simple steps.
Millions of Americans are bitten by a tick every year, but transmission of serious tick-related illnesses such as Lyme disease and alpha-gal syndrome is rarely transmitted, Dr. John Oliver, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, told DailyMail.com.
However, people should take precautions this summer – the season when the creatures are most active – because even a small risk of disease can still be a risk.
He recommends that people use insect spray, get regular checks for ticks, and avoid polished areas where insects like to hide.
The number of ticks interacting with humans is beginning to increase, as Americans encroach on their habitat and create more interactions with them.
“It’s important to recognize the habitat of ticks,” Oliver explained.
Different ticks found in different regions of the country can transmit different diseases.
Oliver says that the deer tick, the most common type of tick in the United States often associated with Lyme disease, often lives in woodland habitats and in areas of high humidity.
Because of this, they are most active throughout the southern United States, and during late June, July, and August.
The lone star tick, which is responsible for alpha-gal syndrome – a peculiar condition where a person is allergic to red meat – prefers drier conditions and can be found in parts of the southwestern United States.
Ticks often carry these diseases because they picked them up from another animal that was eating them.
Anyone can take easy steps to protect themselves from tick-borne diseases, such as using insect spray, wearing long sleeves in areas at risk of exposure and carrying ticks, says Dr. John Oliver (pictured), an entomologist at the University of Minnesota. checks afterwards
Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease that affects up to 35,000 people each year, comes from mice. A tick that feeds on a rat may become ill, and then transmit the bacteria that causes it to the next animal from which it feeds.
Tick-borne diseases come to a standstill with humans, as people cannot transmit them to each other or to another organism.
This type of bacterial infection also does not harm the tick, allowing it to continue feeding other organisms even after it has become infected.
No matter what mistakes are common in the area you live in, the recommendation for how to deal with bugs remains the same.
Insect repellent works on tics as well as mosquitoes. Use any type of insect repellent that is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency, Oliver says.
He also recommends avoiding some of the most litter areas where insects may be. If someone has to go to these areas – for work as an example – they should wear long sleeves and pants to act as a barrier between them and the insects.
Because ticks have evolved to feed on a person without them noticing—even releasing chemicals that numb the host—the majority of tick bites go unnoticed.
Insects can stick to a person for a long time, however, with each passing hour they are attached to the host increasing the possibility of transmitting a potentially dangerous disease.
“Most tick-borne diseases require that ticks have been feeding for at least 24 hours before they transmit bacterial disease,” Oliver said.
He explains that within the first 24 hours of a tick attaching to a human, the risk of disease transmission is low. After 36 hours, the risk could have increased rapidly, and by 60 hours, there is a 100 percent chance of transmission.
Deer tick, which is most common in America and often spreads Lyme disease, recurs in dense areas with high humidity
For this reason, a person should have regular tick checks after returning from an outdoor activity in a place where there is a risk of tick exposure.
A person is advised to comb his body, making sure that there are no unwanted invaders. Showering can also help with this process.
Ticks are very small, and their nymphs are often as small as sesame seeds, which makes it possible for a person not to notice a guest attached to them all day long.
If someone thinks they’ve had a tick for 24 hours, Oliver recommends seeking medical attention.
There is absolutely no need to panic… [but] “If you develop flu-like symptoms, or any type of rash or illness of any kind, you should tell your doctor,” he said.
Infections are rare, with Oliver saying that only about half of the ticks are actually infected with a disease such as Lyme disease.
Ticks can take up to 24 hours to transmit the disease they transmit to humans, which means that regular and thorough tick checks can help prevent recurring serious bacterial infections.
Even when a person does become infected, they can often manage it without medical treatment, and they may not even know they have the infection.
Oliver thinks the official numbers may only capture about ten percent of cases — with around 300,000 people potentially infected each year.
With only about one percent of tick bites resulting in an infection, this means that one million people are unknowingly bitten by the creatures on a yearly basis.
The spread of these creatures also increased. As humans destroy forests and invade natural habitats, they are also interacting with more insects that they would not otherwise have.
“There are a lot more ticks than there were 20 years ago, and the distribution of ticks has expanded a lot,” he said, a harbinger of what may come with Lyme disease and other diseases.