Since 2000, black-legged ticks that transmit Lyme disease have steadily expanded their range along the East Coast and into the Midwest. Furthermore, lone star ticks – capable of carrying multiple diseases – have moved north into the Northeast.
Both groups may be expanding due to an increase in forest cover following years of deforestation to facilitate westward expansion and produce crops, which allows deer populations to flourish, drawing ticks with diseases onto them and creating the perfect breeding grounds.
With spring’s arrival comes concern about outdoor pests like ticks. Though these blood-sucking external parasites typically lay dormant during winter, their numbers increase in warmer months when their bite can cause deadly diseases to strike. Families should take precautions against tick bites in order to enjoy all their favorite outdoor activities without worry from ticks.
While anyone can be affected by tick bites at any time of year, deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis), which are the primary carriers of Lyme disease, tend to become most active when temperatures rise above 45 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity exceeds 85%. While they can still survive winter by hiding in fur for warmth, deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis), are most active when temperatures surpass 45 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity exceeding 85% – they will then begin their hunt!
Deer ticks can spread anaplasmosis, babesiosis, tularemia and Powassan virus – closely related illnesses which may result in symptoms including fever, headache, weakness, vomiting confusion memory loss rashes.
Lone Star Ticks (Amblyomma americanum), commonly found in Massachusetts, pose another major threat. Lone star ticks are aggressive feeders who will search out and attach themselves to warm-blooded animals, including humans if possible. Most often found in wooded and grassy areas; their preferred host animal is white-tailed deer; however they have also been observed feeding on dogs, cats, raccoons, mice rats horses as well as people.
The lone star tick can also spread ehrlichiosis, an infection which causes fever, rash and lethargy in humans, as well as in livestock such as cows; reproductive problems as well as reduced milk production for cows as well as wool quality reduction among sheep are also possible. Furthermore, they can carry bovine mastitis which causes decreased milk production and higher ewe mortality rates than ever before.
Northeast is often associated with big cities like New York and Boston; however, the region also boasts vast wilderness areas teeming with wildlife and ticks. When spending time outdoors in these regions it is wise to take extra precautions against tick bites as Lyme disease is one of the highest risks nationwide.
Ticks thrive in outdoor hotspots such as unmanicured lawns, brush and tall grasses – ideal habitats for ticks to hide out while they wait for potential hosts to pass by. People walking through such dense vegetation areas are especially at risk of encountering ticks that crawl up onto exposed skin and bite them – particularly those walking barefoot through these zones!
The Northeast is home to numerous tick species, such as Black-legged ticks, Deer ticks and Lone Star ticks. These pests can carry dangerous pathogens such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Babesiosis which can all pose threats.
Tick activity typically peaks from late May through June. At this time, tick-borne illnesses become the highest risk, since ticks have the ability to transmit disease-causing pathogens to humans and pets alike.
The Lone Star tick is one of the most invasive and potentially deadly ticks in the country, not yet present in all states but gaining ground rapidly in the Midwest region. This tick poses serious health threats for humans and dogs alike as it carries various pathogens including Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and several other bacterial illnesses that could inflict severe illness on either species.
Minnesota, surrounded by dense forests and rolling hills, has seen an increased incidence of Lyme disease-associated illness among both humans and animals alike. Of particular concern is Minnesota’s low rate of bullseye rash symptoms which signal possible Lyme infection – commonly occurring near tick bite sites.
New York boasts an abundance of natural areas, from expansive grassy parks and wooded spaces, to expansive grassy parks and wooded areas, making it no surprise that it experiences high rates of tick-related emergency room visits. Furthermore, 2018 marked one of the warmest January/February periods ever experienced in the Northeast region, possibly hastening tick season’s arrival even faster.
Statewide, Oregon saw its highest tick-borne disease cases ever seen in one season during this decade – 3,740 illnesses were recorded – likely as a result of factors including Lyme disease’s rising prevalence along with other tick-borne illnesses like anaplasmosis, babesiosis and spotted fever rickettsioses.
Pet parents who want to safeguard against illnesses caused by ticks should practice tickscaping, keeping lawns and natural areas free of dense brush, woodpiles, and vegetation that harbor ticks. Furthermore, using tick repellent and checking themselves and their children after outdoor activities is recommended.
State ecosystems in New Hampshire are rich with rodents that serve as food sources for deer ticks. Furthermore, its climate provides ideal conditions for blacklegged ticks carrying Lyme disease to flourish; additionally, New Hampshire has had experience managing Gulf Coast tick infestations since first identified there in 2018.
Midwest region ranks second for tick-borne emergency department visits nationwide, with 33.3 out of every 100,000 emergency department visits being due to tick bites. This is mostly attributed to American dog, blacklegged ticks and Brown dog ticks being prevalent. Furthermore, Lone Star ticks can also carry disease such as Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis which have also been seen.
Wisconsinites eagerly anticipate warmer weather as an opportunity for outdoor activities like camping, hiking and grilling; but it also increases their risk for tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease. Vampirish ticks wait in wooded brushy areas until an opportunity presents itself to attach themselves to animals (deer included!) or humans – spreading bacteria that cause serious illness and spreading tick-borne infections that could carry Lyme.
Wisconsin ranks in the top 20% for its reported incidence of tick-borne disease cases each year with 3,500 reported instances of Lyme disease annually, placing it amongst them. Lyme disease is transmitted via blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), which tends to populate wooded, brushy areas where they can find hosts to feed off of.
Blacklegged ticks are most often found in the Upper Midwest and Northeastern states, and may carry any number of pathogens including bacteria causing Lyme disease, along with anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Powassan virus.
Susan Paskewitz of the University of Wisconsin Medical Entomology Department states that which animal a tick feeds upon determines which diseases it can spread. Whitetail deer are an ideal host for the tick that bears their name, though other mammals – even humans – could serve as hosts as well.
Lone Star Ticks can also carry diseases and transmit them, including Lyme disease as well as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia, Bourbon virus Heartland virus and Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI). Furthermore, they carry Alpha-gal which causes meat allergies known as Alpha-galosemic shock.
Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire all saw significant increases in tick-borne disease cases between 2011 and 2019, with Vermont seeing such an enormous surge that the CDC now classifies it as endemic for Babesiosis. Mild winters likely contributed to these increases; as they allowed ticks to stay active year round allowing further spreading of infection.